Rayon and cotton fibers of the type used in the manufacture of tampons were extracted for 6 hours in isopropyl alcohol in a soxhlet apparatus to remove all finishes from the fiber surface. The fibers were used to produce experimental tampons of commercial design. Using a syringe method, the tampons were saturated with diluted staphylococci in brain-heart infusion medium and incubated at 37 degrees C. Spent medium was expressed from the tampons and analyzed for growth of staphylococci and production of toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST-1). Results revealed no statistical difference in the production of TSST-1 by cells grown in rayon or cotton. However, a significant increase in TSST-1 production was observed in tampon cultures when compared with medium controls. When similar experiments were performed with tampons saturated with nitrogen, a significant decrease in TSST-1 production was observed when compared with air-saturated tampons. The results indicate that the oxygen normally present in tampons plays a significant role in modulating the production of TSST-1.