Adult male rats were injected intraperitoneally with copper sulphate in physiological saline (3 mg copper/kg body wt). Metallothionein-I (MT-I) levels in liver, kidney, plasma and red blood cells were measured by radioimmunoassay (RIA), prior to the injection and after 7, 16 and 24 h. Copper and zinc levels in liver and kidneys were also monitored. Concentrations of MT-I in liver and kidneys showed a rapid increase and remained elevated for 24 h. Copper concentrations also increased in both tissues but zinc levels remained constant in the kidney and rose only slightly in the liver. MT-I levels increased gradually in plasma but decreased in the red blood cells. Immunochemistry of liver and kidney, using the direct peroxidase technique with antiserum to rat MT-I, revealed an increase in staining in both tissues after copper administration, consistent with the RIA results. The change in distribution of immunoreactive material with time after copper injection indicates a role for MT in the sequestration and excretion of copper in acutely loaded animals.