Lead elimination by ICRF 158, a lipophilic derivative of ethylene-diaminetetra-acetate (EDTA), was investigated in rats after chronic lead exposure. The animals had received a lead concentration of 550 ppm in their drinking water for 140 days. Subsequent treatment with ICRF 158 for 30 days led to increased mobilization and elimination of incorporated lead, and the lead-induced inhibition of hemosynthesis was removed. ICR 158 produced no renal damage in excess to lead-induced tubular nephrosis. Separate toxicity tests in mice demonstrated that is less toxic than CaNa/sub 2/EDTA. ICRF 158 does not form stable complexes with lead ions in vitro. The mechanism of action of this lipophilic EDTA derivative is compared to that of its hydrophilic correspondent, the chelating agent CaNa/sub 2/EDTA.