Beck, E. G., Holt, P. F., and Manojlović, N. (1972).Brit. J. industr. Med.,29, 280-286. Comparison of effects on macrophage cultures of glass fibre, glass powder, and chrysotile asbestos. The effects on macrophage cultures of glass fibre, glass powder, and chrysotile asbestos are compared. Glass fibre behaves like chrysotile in producing an increase in cell membrane permeability in cultured macrophages. This is demonstrable by the increase in lactic dehydrogenase activity in the supernatant fluid. The metabolism, measured by lactate production, is not reduced as it is when quartz is phagocytosed. Glass powder behaves like the inert dust corundum, producing little change in the number of cells stained by erythrosin B and a small increase in lactate dehydrogenase activity, both being in the range of the control. There is an increase in lactate production as a result of higher metabolism due to phagocytosis. Dusts may produce two basic effects, namely a toxic effect and change in cell membrane permeability. A non-specific effect on the cell membrane due to the slow and sometimes incomplete process of ingestion of long fibres is probably a function of the morphology, particularly the length of the fibres. A primary specific effect induced by some dusts immediately follows contact with the cell membrane.