Halitosis originates mainly from the oral cavity, and the volatile sulfur-containing compounds (VSC) are the major contributors of the unpleasant odor. Anaerobic G- bacteria use sulfur-containing amino acids in their production of VSC. Zinc has been shown to inhibit production of odiferous VSC, and the mechanism proposed has been that zinc, with its affinity for sulfur, oxidizes thiol groups and thereby inhibits the precursors of VSC. The aim of the study was to investigate whether, and to what extent, other metal ions with affinity for sulfur exert the same effect and whether a correlation exists between the sulfur affinity and VSC-inhibiting activity of these metals. VSC levels were measured on the 'morning breath' of 10 test subjects, using a portable sulfide monitor. The mouthrinses tested were aqueous solutions of zinc chloride, zinc citrate, stannous fluoride, cuprous gluconate, ferrous gluconate, and silver acetate, and they contained equimolar amounts of metals (1.47 mmol/I). The results showed that the ranking of Zn++ and Sn++ differed in the clinical test compared with sulfur affinity, and likewise with Ag+ and Fe++. It may therefore be concluded that there is no positive correlation between the inhibiting effect of metal ions on VSC and their affinity for sulfur.