Tin-containing fluoride solutions can reduce erosive tissue loss, but the effects of the reaction between tin and enamel are still not clear. During a 10-d period, enamel specimens were cyclically demineralized (0.05 M citric acid, pH 2.3, 6 x 5 min d(-1)) and remineralized (between the demineralization cycles and overnight). In the negative-control group, no further treatment was performed. Three groups were treated (2 x 2 min d(-1)) with tin-containing fluoride solutions (400, 1,400 or 2,100 ppm Sn2+, all 1,500 ppm F-, pH 4.5). Three additional groups were treated with test solutions twice daily, but without demineralization. Tissue loss was determined profilometrically. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy was used to measure the tin content on and within three layers (10 mum each) beneath the surface. In addition, scanning electron microscopy was conducted. All test preparations significantly reduced tissue loss. Deposition of tin on surfaces was higher without erosion than with erosion, but no incorporation of tin into enamel was found without demineralization. Under erosive conditions, both highly concentrated solutions led to the incorporation of tin up to a depth of 20 mum; the less-concentrated solution led to small amounts of tin in the outer 10 mum. The efficacy of tin-containing solutions seems to depend mainly on the incorporation of tin into enamel.