Following a 7-day control period, five female and five male volunteers consumed a weight of gellan gum corresponding to 175 mg/kg body weight for 7 days, followed by 200 mg gellan gum per kg body weight for a further 16 days. Measurements before and at the end of the 23-day test period showed that the gellan gum acted as a faecal bulking agent for the male volunteers and for four of the females. Dietary transit time increased for 2 females and 2 males, and decreased for 3 females and 3 males. Faecal bile acid concentrations increased for 4 females and for 4 males; the average increases were from 0.69 to 0.83 mmol/24 h (females) and from 1.22 to 1.44 mmol/24 h (males). Gellan gum ingestion had no significant effect on (a) plasma biochemistry parameters; (b) haematological indices; (c) urinalysis parameters; (d) blood glucose and plasma insulin concentrations; (e) breath hydrogen concentrations. There were no significant changes in HDL cholesterol, triglyceride or phospholipid concentrations. Serum cholesterol concentrations decreased significantly (P less than 0.1) by 13% on average for females, and by 12%, on average, for males. The data indicate that the ingestion of gellan gum at a high level for 23 days caused no adverse dietary or physiological effects in any of the volunteers. In particular, the enzymatic and other indicators of adverse toxicological effects remained unchanged.