It had previously been held that chlorate is not itself toxic, but is rendered toxic as a result of nitrate reductase-catalysed conversion to chlorite. This however cannot be the explanation of chlorate toxicity in Aspergillus nidulans, even though nitrate reductase is known to have chlorate reductase activity. Among other evidence against the classical theory for the mechanism of chlorate toxicity, is the finding that not all mutants lacking nitrate reductase are clorate resistant. Both chlorate-sensitive and resistant mutants lacking nitrate reductase, also lack chlorate reductase. Data is presented which implicates not only nitrate reductase but also the product of the nirA gene, a positive regulator gene for nitrate assimilation, in the mediation of chlorate toxicity. Alternative mechanisms for chlorate toxicity are considered. It is unlikely that chlorate toxicity results from the involvement of nitrate reductase and the nirA gene product in the regulation either of nitrite reductase, or of the pentose phosphate pathway. Although low pH has an effect similar to chlorate, chorate is not likely to be toxic because it lowers the pH; low pH and chlorate may instead have similar effects. A possible explanation for chlorate toxicity is that it mimics nitrate in mediating, via nitrate reductase and the nirA gene product, a shut-down of nitrogen catabolism. As chlorate cannot act as a nitrogen source, nitrogen starvation ensues.