Deferoxamine (DFO), when used in dialysis patients, is a well recognized risk factor for the development of mucormycosis caused by Rhizopus. This study compares, both in vivo and in vitro, the effects produced on Rhizopus by DFO and by two chelators of the hydroxypyridinone class, L1 and CP94. Experimental systemic mucormycosis was induced in the guinea pig by an i.v. injection of two different strains of Rhizopus: R. microsporus and R. arrhizus. Concomitant i.p. administration of DFO for four days shortened animal survival (P < 0.05), whereas concomitant administration of either L1 or CP94 did not. In vitro radioiron uptake by R. microsporus was 100-fold higher from the 55ferric complex of DFO than of L1 or CP94. In vitro fungal growth was stimulated sevenfold by the ferric complex of DFO (P < 0.0001) but not significantly by the ferric complex of either L1 or CP94. These results indicate that the ferric complex of DFO but not that of L1 or CP94 specifically stimulates both the iron uptake and the growth of Rhizopus. They suggest that the risk of developing mucormycosis should be minimal with L1 or CP94, as opposed to DFO.