Heavy metals have been shown to have a differential effects on various aspects of immune response. Recently natural killer cells have been widely investigated due to their purported role in immune surveillance. To ascertain the immunotoxic effects of lead, cadmium, nickel and chromium on natural killer (NK) cell activity in vitro, peripheral blood lymphocytes from normal donors were examined in the presence of different concentrations (10(-5)-10(-8) M) of four selected metal salts (cadmium sulphate, lead nitrate, chromium nitrate and nickel sulphated. NK cell activity was evaluated in a 4-h chromium release assay against K562 target cells. All of the metal salts were found to exert no effect on NK cell function in the human concentration range.