The relationship between contact allergy to formaldehyde and positive patch test reactions to DMDM hydantoin was investigated. 35 formaldehyde-allergic patients were patch tested with serial dilutions of formaldehyde (0.1%-0.3%-1.0% aq.) and DM hydantoin (the non-formaldehyde-containing parent compound of DMDM hydantoin). 21 were also patch tested with MDM hydantoin (1 molecule formaldehyde) in serial dilutions: 7 (33%) reacted to 1 or more concentrations. The other 14 were also tested with DMDM hydantoin (2 molecules formaldehyde) in serial dilutions: 8 (57%) reacted to 1 or more concentrations. Patients patch-test-positive to formaldehyde 0.1% and/or 0.3% tended to show more patch test reactivity to (D)MDM hydantoin than those who reacted only to 1%. Aqueous solutions of (D)MDM hydantoin in concentrations as used in cosmetic products therefore contain enough free formaldehyde to cause dermatitis in a patch test system in some formaldehyde-allergic patients: 12 such patients applied a cream containing 1% DMDM hydantoin to the flexor aspect of the lower arm twice daily for 1 week; 4 (33%) developed dermatitis. The use of a cream containing 0.25% DMDM hydantoin in these 4 patients still caused dermatitis in 1 and provoked itching in another. An increase in the use of DMDM hydantoin in cosmetic products will also inevitable increase the risk of cosmetic dermatitis in consumers allergic to formaldehyde.