Abstract The peripheral nerve biopsy specimens of 4 cases of toxic polyneuropathies induced by exposure to leather cement in shoe industries were studied. Analysis of the cements used in the manufacturing process proved them to contain n-hexane as a volatile substance. Light- and electron-microscopic examination of nerve biopsies showed segmental swelling of axons due to the accumulation of packed filaments and thinning of the overlying myelin sheath. Neither active nerve fibre degeneration nor regeneration were frequently seen. It has been suggested that features of so-called giant axonal neuropathy are the most common pattern of peripheral nerve degeneration in chronic n-hexane intoxication.