Lead is an ubiquitous metal in the environment that induces a broad range of physiological, biochemical and behavioral dysfunctions. The purpose of this study was to investigate its effects on blood parameters and blood viscosity. Female rats (14 Wistar-Albino type) were divided into a control and a lead exposed group. Both groups were fed with the same standard food, but lead acetate was added to the drinking water of the experimental group for 5 weeks. At the end of the experimental period, blood samples were drawn from the abdominal aorta of the anaesthetized animals. Hematocrit (Hct %), hemoglobin (Hb), and the number of erythrocytes were determined, blood viscosity was measured with a rotational viscometer, and the lead concentration in blood was analyzed by means of flame atomic absorption spectrometry. The erythrocyte count, Hb and Hct % of the lead exposed group were found to be significantly lower than in the control group (p < 0.01). The blood viscosity level was significantly higher compared to the control group (p < 0.01). It can be concluded that increased lead concentrations in blood impair certain hemorheological mechanisms and increase blood viscosity. (C) 2004 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.