The purpose of this in vitro study was to evaluate the enamel and dentinal marginal sealing ability of three different cervical restorative systems. Class V preparations were made at the cementoenamel junction of 36 freshly extracted premolars. The teeth were randomly divided into three groups of 12 and restored with either a polyacid-modified resin composite ("compomer"), resin composite, or resin-modified glass-ionomer cement. The restored teeth were stored in saline at 37 degrees C for 1 week, thermally stressed for 500 cycles, and subjected to dye penetration testing. The results showed that there was no significant difference in dentinal margin sealing ability among the three materials evaluated. When the margins were in enamel, the resin composite restorations had significantly less leakage than did compomer or resin-modified glass-ionomer cement restorations. The marginal sealing ability of all three materials was significantly poorer in dentin than in enamel.