Metals are the oldest toxins known to human. Particularly, occupational and environmental exposure to aluminium, lead, mercury, cadmium, and manganese cause serious health problems by interaction with biological systems. Cellular targets of these metals are mostly specific biochemical processes (enzymes) and/or membranes of cells and organelles. To prevent and/or reduce the untoward or irreversible toxic effects of the metals by using biomarkers are as important as to know and to understand of their toxicity mechanisms. Dihydropteridine reductase (DHPR), which possessed essential thiol groups at the activite site, plays a crucial role in the maintenance of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4). BH4 iS the cofactor in the synthesis and regulation of neurotransmitters. A limited number of the evidences have shown that DHPR may be a target for the metals. Therefore, the present study was designed to assess possible in vitro effects of the commonly exposed metals on the enzyme activity. It was found that aluminium, cadmium, mercury, di-phenyl mercury, lead, diethyl lead, in chloride forms, and manganese, in sulphate form, led to statistically significant decreases in DHPR activity, in a concentration-dependent manner, in vitro. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.