The cytotoxic and oxidative responses of crocidolite and chrysotile asbestos fibers and ultrafine titanium dioxide (UF-TiO2) particles were measured in alveolar macrophages (AM) and peripheral red blood cells (RBC) of rat after 30 days with a single intratracheal exposure (5 mg). The following responses were observed one month after fiber/particle instillation: (1) AM population increased; (2) lactate dehydrogenase and acid phosphatase activities in cell free lung lavage fluid increased; (3) substances that react with hydrogen peroxide or thiobarbituric acid were elevated in both AM and peripheral RBC; (4) glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and catalase were altered in both AM and peripheral RBC; (5) glutathione and ascorbic acid decreased in both AM and peripheral RBC. A significant difference from negative controls was noted in all responses of the two fiber-exposed groups, and in most responses of the UF-TiO2-exposed group. The level of responses to the three test substances suggested a decreasing order of toxicity, with crocidolite>chrysotile>UF-TiO2. Copyright (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.