OBJECTIVES: It was hypothesized that the welding of stainless steel involves a risk of male-mediated developmental toxicity because of exposure to mutagenic substances, including hexavalent chromium. The purpose of the present study was to corroborate or refute earlier findings that spouses of stainless steel welders have an increased risk of spontaneous abortion. METHODS: The occurrence of spontaneous abortion among 2520 pregnancies of spouses of 1715 married metal workers from 1977 through 1987 was examined. Occupational histories were collected with a postal questionnaire in a previous study. Information on children born live, spontaneous abortion, and induced abortion was obtained from national medical registers. RESULTS: The proportion of spontaneous abortions was not increased for pregnancies at risk from stainless steel welding when compared with pregnancies not at risk (odds ratio 0.78, 95% confidence interval 0.55-1.1). The risk estimate was robust to adjustment for potential confounding effects of maternal age and parity and male smoking and alcohol consumption. CONCLUSIONS: This study does not corroborate earlier findings that spouses of stainless steel welders have increased risk of spontaneous abortion. A reanalysis indicated that earlier findings were probably biased because the job exposure of male metal workers is apparently modified by the outcome of their partners' first pregnancy.