An LD50 of 0.2 mg/kg body wt has been determined for 1 alpha-hydroxyvitamin D3 in the rat. In comparison, the LD50 for 1 alpha-hydroxyvitamin D2 is between 3.5 and 6.5 mg/kg. In terms of chronic toxicity, 1 alpha-hydroxyvitamin D3 at a dose of 5 micrograms/kg/day causes death of one-half the animals in a 4-week period. On the other hand, 20 micrograms/kg/day of 1 alpha-hydroxyvitamin D2 is required to induce similar toxicity. The body weight record and renal calcium accumulation during chronic treatment support the above conclusion. It therefore appears that 1 alpha-hydroxyvitamin D2 is between 5 and 15 times less toxic than 1 alpha-hydroxyvitamin D3. This surprising result prompted a reexamination of the relative biological activity of 1 alpha-hydroxyvitamin D2 and 1 alpha-hydroxyvitamin D3. Both compounds are equally potent in the stimulation of intestinal calcium transport, bone calcium mobilization, in the elevation of serum phosphorus, and in the healing of rickets in the rat. The reason for lower toxicity of 1 alpha-hydroxyvitamin D2 is unknown. The results suggest that 1 alpha-hydroxyvitamin D2 might represent a therapeutically superior compound.