Dust from mattresses of different composition and age was analysed for mites, xerophilic fungi and allergenic activity. The mites of the genus Demodex were the most abundant (58.2 per cent). Also pyroglyphid mites occurred commonly (36.6 per cent). Pyroglyphid mites were present in small numbers (mean: 1 specimen/0.2 g of dust) in 12 out of the 17 older polyester-foam mattresses. The 11 cotton-horsechair mattresses and the newly used polyester-foam mattresses (three tested) were without them. The dust from the cotton-horsehair mattresses had a significantly higher allergenic activity than from those of polyester-foam. Xerophilic fungi were isolated in three out of 31 mattresses. The species isolated belonged to the genus Aspergillus and Eurotium. E. repens occurred most frequently. Disinfection of mattresses was suggested to have a negative influence on the occurrence of mites and fungi.