This study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of modified citrus pectin (MCP) on the urinary excretion of toxic elements in healthy individuals. MCP is a reduced molecular weight pectin (weight-average molar mass = 15,400) that is mostly linear homogalacturonan with a 3.8% degree of esterification and approximately 10% rhamnogalacturonan II based on the presence of 2-keto-3-deoxy-octonic acid. Subjects ingested 15 g of MCP (PectaSol, EcoNugenics Inc., Santa Rosa, California 95407) each day for 5 days and 20 g on day 6. Twenty-four hour urine samples were collected on day 1 and day 6 for comparison with baseline. The urine samples were analysed for toxic and essential elements. In the first 24 h of MCP administration the urinary excretion of arsenic increased significantly (130%, p < 0.05). On day 6, urinary excretion was increased significantly for cadmium (150%, p < 0.05). In addition, lead showed a dramatic increase in excretion (560%, p < 0.08). This pilot trial provides the first evidence that oral administration of MCP increases significantly the urinary excretion of toxic metals in subjects with a 'normal' body load of metals. It is suggested that systemic chelation of toxic metals by MCP may in part be attributable to the presence of rhamnogalacturonan II, which has been shown previously to chelate metals.