After its successful application to the treatment of acute Pb poisoning, Ca disodium EDTA came into routine clinical use for diagnosis and treatment of subacute and chronic Pb poisoning. Despite widespread use, few definitive conclusions have emerged about the sources of Pb mobilized by Ca disodium EDTA. Furthermore, the possibility that mobilized Pb may be redistributed has been suggested. The current studies indicate that the standard therapeutic protocol for Ca disodium EDTA has little impact on critical organs such as brain and liver and moreover, that diagnostic Ca disodium EDTA chelation may even increase the concentration of Pb in these tissues. After a 3 to 4 month exposure to Pb acetate in drinking water, different groups of rats received daily i.p. injections of saline (control), 75 or 150 mg/kg of Ca disodium EDTA for either 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days and were then sacrificed 24 hr after the final injection. Tissue analyses indicated that Pb was mobilized from bone and kidney and redistributed initially to both brain and liver. Levels in both brain and liver declined with subsequent Ca disodium EDTA injections, but no net loss from either tissue occurred over the 5-day treatment period despite a decline in blood Pb levels and a marked enhancement of urinary Pb excretion. These findings stress the need for further investigation of Ca disodium EDTAs effects and for parallel evaluation of alternate chelating agents, and suggest that a re-evaluation of both the diagnostic and therapeutic roles of Ca disodium EDTA may be advisable.