[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In a cross-sectional study, the serum concentrations of inhibin B and prolactin of 96 male current welders were compared with the concentrations measured in 96 age-matched referents. Also, 23 patients who were all former welders diagnosed as having welding-related manganism were studied. The current welders' geometric mean (GM) airborne exposure to manganese (Mn) was 121 microg m(-3) (range 7-2320). The serum concentrations of prolactin adjusted for age and smoking habits (GM 193 mIU l(-1) vs. 166 mIU l(-1); p=0.047) and inhibin B adjusted for alcohol consumption (arithmetic mean (AM) 151 ng l(-1) vs. 123 ng l(-1); p=0.001) were higher in the welders compared with the referents. The whole blood Mn concentration was associated with the serum prolactin concentrations. Tobacco smoking resulted in lower serum prolactin concentrations. The GM serum prolactin concentrations of the patients did not significantly differ from that of the referents, but their AM serum inhibin B concentration was statistically significantly lower. The results may suggest an effect of Mn on the pituitary that is reversible upon cessation of exposure. Lower inhibin B concentrations in the patients could point to a functional impairment of the testicular Sertoli cells, that may be caused by a welding fume component or other factors in their work environment.