It has been postulated that causation of the tropical cardiomyopathy endomyocardial fibrosis (EMF) is linked to magnesium (Mg) deficiency and cardiac toxicity of the rare earth element cerium (Ce). The aim of the present study was to define the myocardial lesions in rabbits that were fed on Mg-restricted diet (70-80 ppm) periodically and were provided drinking water contaminated with rare earth chloride (1 g/L). Forty New Zealand white rabbits were divided into four groups following a 2 x 2 factorial design. Two groups were periodically fed on Mg-restricted diet with one of them receiving water contaminated with rare earth chloride. The other two groups were continuously fed on Mg-sufficient diet (350-400 ppm) with one of them receiving water contaminated with rare earth chloride. All animals were sacrificed at the end of 6 mo. Cardiac tissues were subjected to histology, elemental analysis (calcium [Ca], Mg, and Ce) and estimation of collagen content and collagen phenotypes. Histological lesions were compared with those of EMF in humans and those of acute Mg deficiency in animals. The results suggest that in rabbits, recurrent episodes of Mg deficiency lead to myocardial fibrosis similar to the pattern observed in human EMF.