The effect of metal ions on chondrocytes obtained from articular and nasal cartilage was evaluated. Cell death was evaluated by the lactate dyhydrogenase assay (LDH). Cells were incubated with metal ions such as cobalt (Co[II]), chromium (Cr[III]) and chromium (Cr[VI]). It was found that Co[II] and Cr[VI] ions induce chondrocyte death and that the nitric oxide pathway may be involved in the induction of lethal damage. The results show that exposure to critical concentrations of certain types of metal ions results in chondrocyte death, which could lead to the degradation of healthy cartilage.