Previous studies have shown that acute, oral administration of malathion increased the generation of a humoral immune response, stimulated macrophage function and caused mast cell degranulation and histamine release. In this study, the effect of acute administration of various doses of malathion via oral and dermal routes to mice and rats on serum levels of histamine was evaluated. Oral administration of malathion to mice led to an increase in the level of serum histamine 4 and 8 h after administration. At 4 h after administration, the peak in serum histamine levels was observed at a dose of 10 mg/kg malathion. At 8 h, a maximal effect was observed at a dose of 700 mg/kg and the response was more prolonged than at lower doses. At 12 and 24 h after administration, the level of histamine in the serum of treated mice was comparable to controls. A similar pattern was observed in rats. However, the time point at which histamine levels returned to control was 8 rather than 12 h. After application of malathion to the skin of mice or rats in dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO), the level of histamine in the blood was also increased. As before, the peak increase was observed at 4 h after administration and the level had returned to control levels within 8 h (slight increase at 8 h in rats) after application. However, after dermal application the maximal levels of histamine in the serum were noted at the highest doses of malathion. The no effect levels for histamine in the blood after malathion administration to these two species by these two routes are as follows: (1) Mice, oral in corn oil, 0.1 mg/kg; (2) Rats, oral in corn oil, 0.1 mg/kg; (3) Mice, dermal in DMSO, 2 mg/kg; (4) Rats, dermal in DMSO--not determined (2 mg/kg low effect level).