Abstract The purpose was to explore the effects of combinations of copper, iron and fluoride (Cu, Fe and F) incorporated in sucrose by co-crystallization on caries development in the desalivated rat model and to examine acid formation by bacteria in the rat mouth. Ninety-six Sprague-Dawley rats were infected with Streptococcus sobrinus 6715 and desalivated when aged 26 days. Eight groups were placed in a König-Höfer programmed feeder and received 17 meals daily at hourly intervals, and essential nutrition (NCP No. 2) by gavage twice daily for 21 days. The groups received (1) plain sucrose, (2) F (8 parts/10 6) co-crystallized with sucrose, (3) Fe (88 parts/10 6) sucrose, (4) Cu (75 parts/10 6) sucrose, (5) Cu + F sucrose, (6) Cu + L Fe sucrose, (7) F + Fe sucrose, and (8) Cu + Fe + F sucrose. At death the jaws were removed and sonicated in 0.9% saline solution for microbial assessment. In addition, organic acid assays were performed for each animal. Keyes smooth-surface and sulcal caries scores were lowest in the Cu + Fe + F sucrose group, but not statistically significantly different from those of the other Cu groups. The numbers of Strep. sobrinus found in the groups that received Cu, Cu + Fe, Cu + F, F + Fe and Cu + Fe + F sugar were lower than in the control group. Lactic acid was found in lower concentrations in Fe, Cu, Cu + F, Cu + Fe and F + Fe groups than in the other groups. It appears that combinations of Cu, Fe and F co-crystallized with sugar may have an additive effect in reducing the cariogenic potential of sugar by affecting lactic acid formation and reducing bacterial colonization.