A review of the comparative characteristics and properties of noble metal alloys used for metal-ceramic restorations has been presented. Selection of an alloy for one's practice should be based on long-term clinical data, physical properties, esthetic potential, and laboratory data on metal-ceramic bond strength and thermal compatibility with commercial dental porcelains. Although gold-based alloys, such as the Au-Pt-Pd, Au-Pd-Ag, and Au-Pd classes, may appear to be costly compared with the palladium-based alloys, they have clearly established their clinical integrity and acceptability over an extended period of time. Other than the relatively low sag resistance of the high gold-low silver content alloys and the potential thermal incompatibility with some commercial porcelain products, few clinical failures have been observed. The palladium-based alloys are less costly than the gold-based alloys. Palladium-silver alloys require extra precautions to minimize porcelain discoloration. Palladium-copper and palladium-cobalt alloys may also cause porcelain discoloration, as copper and cobalt are used as colorants in glasses. The palladium-cobalt alloys are least susceptible to high-temperature creep compared with all classes of noble metals. Nevertheless, insufficient clinical data exist to advocate the general use of the palladium-copper and palladium-cobalt alloys at the present time. One should base the selection and use of these alloys in part on their ability to meet the requirements of the ADA Acceptance Program. A list of acceptable or provisionally acceptable alloys is available from the American Dental Association and is published annually in the Journal of the American Dental Association. Dentists have the legal and ethical responsibility for selection of alloys used for cast restorations. This responsibility should not be delegated to the dental laboratory technician. It is advisable to discuss the criteria for selection of an alloy with the technician and the thermal manufacturer or supplier. Once an alloy is selected, the specific alloy name should be written on all laboratory prescriptions as well as in patients' charts. Maintenance of accurate dental records is necessary from a legal point of view, and it also allows the clinician to determine the longevity of specific metal-porcelain systems.