The long-term urinary mercury excretion was determined in 17 28- to 55-year-old persons before and at varying times (up to 14 months) after removal of all (4-24) dental amalgam fillings. Before removal the urinary mercury excretion correlated with the number of amalgam fillings. In the immediate post-removal phase (up to 6 days after removal) a mean increase of 30% was observed. Within 12 months the geometric mean of the mercury excretion was reduced by a factor of 5 from 1.44 micrograms/g (range: 0.57-4.38 micrograms/g) to 0.36 microgram/g (range: 0.13-0.88 microgram/g). After cessation of exposure to dental amalgam the mean half-life was 95 days. These results show that the release of mercury from dental amalgam contributes predominantly to the mercury exposure of non-occupationally exposed persons. The exposure from amalgam fillings thus exceeds the exposure from food, air and beverages. Within 12 months after removal of all amalgam fillings the participants showed substantially lower urinary mercury levels which were comparable to those found in subjects who have never had dental amalgam fillings. A relationship between the urinary mercury excretion and adverse effects was not found. Differences in the frequency of effects between the pre- and the post-removal phase were not observed.