The murine local lymph node assay (LLNA) has been proposed as a predictive test for the identification of sensitizing agents. We used this test to compare the sensitization potential of NiSO4, K2Cr2O7, CoCl2, Na2PtCl6 and BeSO4, salts of metals which have all been associated with allergic contact dermatitis and either bronchial asthma orinterstitial lung disease, by either humoral or cell-mediated allergic mechanisms. BALB/c mice (n = 3 per concentration studied, three concentrations studied per metal) received three daily applications of the metal salt (in DMSO) on the dorsum of both ears. On the fourth day the draining auricular lymph nodes were removed and the incorporation of [3H]-thymidine in the lymphocytes in culture was compared to that of concurrent vehicle-treated control mice, thus enabling to derive a stimulation index (SI), indicative of immunological sensitization potential. Each experiment was performed three times. Oxazolone and toluene diisocyanate, chosen as positive controls, yielded strongly positive SI values (> 20 and > 30 respectively). Na2PtCl6 (SI 2.6 +/- 1.0 at 2.5%), CoCl2 (SI 2.8 +/- 0.5 at 5%) and possibly also K2Cr2O7 (SI 2.1 +/- 1.2 at 0.5%) were positive in the LLNA, whereas NiSO4 (SI 0.9 +/- 0.2 at 5%) and BeSO4 (SI 1.3 +/- 0.6 at 4%) were negative. Although our results are still limited by the fact that only one mice strain was tested, they indicate that there is no strict relationship between the sensitization potential of metal salts, as evaluated in the murine LLNA, and their potential to cause either respiratory or dermal allergic disease. Consequently, caution should be exercised before proposing the murine LLNA as a valid test to predict the sensitization potential of low molecular weight chemicals.