Hard metal contains about 10% cobalt. 853 hard metal workers were examined and patch tested with substances from their environment. Initial patch tests with 1% cobalt chloride showed 62 positive reactions. By means of secondary serial dilution tests, allergic reactions to cobalt were reproduced in 9 men and 30 women. Weak reactions could not normally be reproduced. A history of hand eczema was found in 36 of the 39 individuals with reproducible positive test reactions to cobalt, while 21 of 23 with a positive initial patch test but negative serial dilution test had never had any skin problems. Hand etching and hand grinding, mainly female activities and traumatic to the hands, were found to involve the greatest risk of cobalt sensitization. 24 individuals had an isolated cobalt allergy. They had probably been sensitized by hard metal work, while the individuals, all women, who had simultaneous nickel allergy had probably been sensitized to nickel before their employment and then became sensitized to cobalt by hard metal work. A traumatic occupation, which causes irritant contact dermatitis and/or a previous contact allergy or atopy is probably a prerequisite for the development of cobalt allergy.