The relationship between these factors was studied in plaque and plaque fluid samples taken at intervals during the Stephan pH curve following a sucrose mouth rinse. Levels of lactate rose after the rinse, then fell during the pH recovery phase. Levels of acetate, propionate and phosphate fell after rinsing, then rose again. Amino acid concentrations also changed, with many showing a fall followed by a rise; others rising then falling; and some showing a more variable or complex pattern. In resting plaque fluid, only alanine, proline, glutamic acid, glycine and ammonia were present at concentrations above 1 mmol/l. Delta-aminovaleric acid was detected at levels below those that have been found in monkeys. Hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine were consistently detected, levels of arginine were generally low, and those of cystine consistently very low. The results may provide a basis for understanding the complex metabolic interrelations that occur in the course of the Stephan curve and which may reflect or produce the observed pH changes. They suggest that besides the amount of acid produced, the type of acid, buffering power and base production should be considered as determinants of plaque pH.