Effects of cationic species on Maillard browning were examined after heating (ca. 100 degrees C) aqueous pH 7.2 buffered solutions of amino acids and pentose sugars. Metallic ions of Group I metals (Li, Na, K, Rb and Cs) produced a small increase in browning (A420), but somewhat greater effects were observed with ions of Group II metals Ca and Mg. Browning was suppressed by triethylammonium ion, but unaffected by a salt of the stronger base, guanidine. The quaternary amine salt choline chloride produced enhanced browning and served as a model for phospholipid involvement in Maillard reactions. With alpha,omega-diamino acids increases in browning were observed which related to lowered pK2 values resulting from positively charged omega-substituents in these molecules.