The lungs of 8 male beagle dogs were examined morphologically and morphometrically after exposure for 13 mo to a respirable sulfur(IV) aerosol at a mass concentration of 1.53 mg m(-3) (16.5 h/day), and to an acidic sulfate aerosol carrying 15.2 micromol m(-3) hydrogen ions into the lungs (6 h/day). An additional eight dogs served as unexposed controls. Standard morphometric analyses of both the surface epithelia of the conducting airways and the alveolar region were performed. These analyses showed no difference between the exposure group and control group. However, there was a tendency to an increase in the volume density of bronchial glands in the exposure group. Five of eight exposed animals showed thickened ridges (knob-like structures) at the entrance to alveoli in the alveolar duct and alveolar sac. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that the thickening was mainly due to type II cell proliferation. As the previous experiment using sulfite aerosol only showed no alterations in the proximal alveolar regions, the changes observed may be considered as effects of acidic sulfate aerosol alone or in combination with sulfite. These findings suggest that sulfur aerosols have the potential to induce epithelial alterations in the proximal alveolar region, which is a primary target for air pollutants.