We investigated the therapeutic effect of two gold salts, gold sodium thiomalate (GST, i.m.) and auranofin (p.o.), D-penicillamine (p.o.) and benoxaprofen (p.o.) in rat collagen-induced arthritis using type II collagen from fetal bovine articular cartilage. GST, but not auranofin, reduced hind paw edema and bone pathology. However, auranofin reduced serum copper and zymosan-induced prostaglandin production from peritoneal macrophages. In contrast, GST increased both serum copper and macrophage prostaglandin production by zymosan. Benoxaprofen reduced both hind paw edema and pathology, whereas D-penicillamine was without effect. None of these treatments influenced the circulating level of antibody to type II collagen.