After an epidemic of severe urethral strictures in cardiac surgery patients, all brand latex catheters marketed in Finland were investigated for cellular toxicity with eluates made from the catheters. Four of the seven brands, including the one involved in the stricture cases, showed marked cytotoxicity and inhibited almost all cell growth in various human cell cultures when a 30% catheter eluate was used. DNA histograms of cells cultured with toxic catheter eluate showed inhibition of DNA synthesis. Silicone catheters did not influence cell growth, which correlates with the finding that no new stricture cases were seen after the latex catheters were replaced with silicone ones. Attention is paid to the facts that international standards regarding urethral catheter toxicity are lacking and that catheter quality control is insufficient.