Iron appears to play a major role in catalysing free radical production, leading to lipid peroxidation and DNA damage. We, therefore, investigated the effect of colloidal iron deposited in the peritoneum. Wistar male rats were given either ferric saccharate, ferric saccharate and nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA), NTA or saline. NTA was shown previously to 'free' iron to promote lipid peroxidation and an iron chelate of NTA is known to be carcinogenic to the kidney. Iron at a dose of 5 mg kg-1 day-1, and saline at a dose of 0.5 ml day-1 were injected i.p. for 3 months. NTA at a dose of 83.5 mg kg-1 day-1 was give i.p. for 5 months. All the rats were killed about a year later for histological examination. In nine of the 19 rats treated with ferric saccharate, mesothelial tumors were induced in the serosa of the tunica vaginalis or the length of the spermatic cord. Among rats treated with ferric saccharate and NTA, seven had localised mesotheliomas in the above locations and six had wide-spread peritoneal mesotheliomas. No mesothelial tumors developed in either NTA treated or saline treated rats. No pleural mesotheliomas were found in any group. These findings add to the evidence that iron is involved in some carcinogenic processes.