There is considerable controversy as to whether dental amalgams may cause systemic health effects in humans because they liberate elemental mercury. Most such amalgams contain as much as 50% metallic mercury. To determine the influence of dental amalgams on the mercury body burden of humans, we have given volunteers, with and without amalgams in their mouth, the sodium salt of 2,3-dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonic acid (DMPS), a chelating agent safely used in the Soviet Union and West Germany for a number of years. The diameters of dental amalgams of the subjects were determined to obtain the amalgam score. Administration of 300 mg DMPS by mouth increased the mean urinary mercury excretion of the amalgam group from 0.70 to 17.2 micrograms and that of the nonamalgam group from 0.27 to 5.1 micrograms over a 9-h period. Two-thirds of the mercury excreted in the urine of those with dental amalgams appears to be derived originally from the mercury vapor released from their amalgams. Linear regression analysis indicated a highly significant positive correlation between the mercury excreted in the urine 2 h after DMPS administration and the dental amalgam scores. DMPS can be used to increase the urinary excretion of mercury and thus increase the significance and reliability of this measure of mercury exposure or burden, especially in cases of micromercurialism.