Exposure to neurotoxic chemicals such as pesticides, selenium, and heavy metals have been suggested to play a role in the etiology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We assessed exposure to lead, cadmium, and mercury in 38 ALS patients (16 men and 22 females) and 38 hospital-admitted controls by using their cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) content as biomarker. We determined CSF heavy metal levels with inductively coupled plasma sector field mass spectrometry, according to a methodology specifically developed for this biological matrix. ALS patients had higher median values for Pb (155 vs. 132. ng/L) but lower levels for Cd (36 vs. 72. ng/L) and Hg (196 vs. 217. ng/L). In the highest tertile of exposure, ALS odds ratio was 1.39 (95% CI 0.48-4.25) for Pb, 0.29 (0.08-1.04) for Cd and 3.03 (0.52-17.55) for Hg; however, no dose-response relation emerged. Results were substantially confirmed after conducting various sensitivity analyses, and after stratification for age and sex. Though interpretation of these results is limited by the statistical imprecision of the estimates, and by the possibility that CSF heavy metal content may not reflect long-term antecedent exposure, they do not lend support to a role of the heavy metals cadmium, lead and mercury in ALS etiology.