The ability of quartz and various asbestos fibres to induce the production of reactive oxygen metabolites in human polymorphonuclear leucocytes was assessed. A chemiluminescence assay showed that the activation of polymorphonuclear leucocytes was induced in the following order of effect: quartz; chrysotile A; crocidolite; chrysotile B; amosite; and anthophyllite. Only slight chemiluminescence was produced by cells exposed to wollastonites and titanium dioxide. A positive correlation was seen between production of chemiluminescence and red cell haemolysis. Our results suggest that the potential of various environmental particles and mineral fibres to induce inflammation, fibrosis, and cancer of the lung could be related to their ability to induce inflammatory cells to produce reactive oxygen metabolites.