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The expansion of the European Union is bringing new types of metal-ceramic alloys to the market, i.e. alloys probably unknown in Western-European dentistry. The aim of this study was to investigate recent developments and ‘classic’ alloy compositions (one iron and two cobalt alloys, unalloyed titanium and an experimental titanium-zirconium alloy, and one gold alloy containing copper and zinc). The alloys and titanium were subject to static immersion in a 0.1 mol l−1 solution of saline lactic acid before and after oxidation, hence simulating the temperature cycles for the application of ceramic to metal. The greatest amounts of released metal ions were found in the electrolytes of the oxidized gold alloy and of a cobalt alloy not exposed to high-temperature oxidation. Corrosion of the titanium and alloy surfaces was related to the condition of the specimen. The irritation potentials of some metal ions found in the electrolyte were investigated by performing the hen's egg test-chorio-allantoic membrane (HET-CAM) procedure with 1 mmol l−1 solutions of Ce3+, Co2+, Cu2+, Zn2+, Fe2+, and Ti4+ ions. The irritation potential of the electrolyte of the oxidized gold alloy with a high concentration of metal elements was also investigated. Of these solutions, only the 1 mmol l−1 Cu2+ solution was graded as slightly irritating.