Boron is ubiquitously present in soils and water. Associated with pectin it is essential for vascular plants as a component of cell walls, and it stabilizes cell membranes. It is required for the growth of pollen tubes and is involved in membrane transport, stimulating H(+)-pumping ATPase activity and K+ uptake. However, a high boron concentration in the soils is toxic to plants and some boronated derivatives are used as herbicides. An absolute requirement for boron has not been definitively demonstrated in animals and humans. However, experiments with boron supplementation or deprivation show that boron is involved in calcium and bone metabolism, and its effects are more marked when other nutrients (cholecalciferol, magnesium) are deficient. Boron supplementation increases the serum concentration of 17 beta-estradiol and testosterone but boron excess has toxic effects on reproductive function. Boron may be involved in cerebral function via its effects on the transport across membranes. It affects the synthesis of the extracellular matrix and is beneficial in wound healing. Usual dietary boron consumption in humans is 1-2 mg/day for adults. As boron has been shown to have biological activity, research into the chemistry of boronated compounds has increased. Boronated compounds have been shown to be potent anti-osteoporotic, anti-inflammatory, hypolipemic, anti-coagulant and anti-neoplastic agents both in vitro and in vivo in animals.