Melatonin, a pineal secretory product, and its precursors, tryptophan and serotonin, were examined for their metal binding affinities for both essential and toxic metals: aluminium, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, and zinc. An electrochemical technique, adsorptive stripping voltammetry, showed the varying abilities of melatonin and its precursors to bind the metals in situ. The results show that the following metal complexes were formed: aluminium with melatonin, tryptophan, and serotonin; cadmium with melatonin and tryptophan; copper with melatonin and serotonin; iron(III) with melatonin and serotonin; lead with melatonin, tryptophan, and serotonin; and zinc with melatonin and tryptophan. Iron(II) showed the formation of an in situ complex with tryptophan only. These studies suggest a further role for melatonin in the reduction of free radical generation and metal detoxification, and they may explain the accumulation of aluminium in Alzheimer's disease.