Metal deficiency or toxicity states have been recognized as a cause of several neurological disorders and are suspected in others. We analyzed four brain regions (frontal cortex, caudate nucleus, substantia nigra, and cerebellum) in 36 human brains for concentrations of 24 metals (Ag, Al, As, B, Be, Ca, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Pb, Mg, Mn, Mo, Na, Ni, P, Se, Ti, V, W, Zn). Regional metal concentrations, measured using atomic absorption and atomic emission spectroscopy, were compared between 9 Parkinson's disease (PD) brains, 15 brains from patients with other chronic neurological diseases, and 12 control brains. No significant metal concentration differences were noted between brains from PD and other chronic neurologic disease. However, parkinsonian brains (PD and parkinsonism secondary to neurofibrillary tangle disease) showed lower concentrations of magnesium in the caudate nucleus and copper in the substantia nigra than control brains. These findings may represent an etiologically important clue to parkinsonism.