Some aldehydes have previously been shown to alter the microtubular system in a concentration-dependent manner. This paper examines the effects of taxol on the impairment of in vitro functionality of microtubular protein and of cytoplasmic microtubules by C-9 aliphatic aldehydes. Taxol-induced polymerization was inhibited by aldehydes in a similar way to GTP-induced polymerization, even though to a different degree. The addition of taxol restored the ability of aldehyde-impaired tubulin to polymerize, but only in the presence of nonanal. Colchicine binding activity in the presence of taxol was slightly modified by aldehydes at 20 degrees C, while it increased at 37 degrees C, compared to controls. Immunofluorescence showed a low disruption of microtubules in fibroblasts incubated with aldehydes and pretreated with taxol, probably as a consequence of its stabilizing activity. Anyway, aldehydes studied behaved differently, indicating a structure-activity relationship.