Leaf samples of six plant species collected from locations near the Al-fabrication plants in Sai Kung, Hong Kong were found to be heavily contaminated by Al, Cd, Pb, Ni, Cu and Zn, as determined by inductively - coupled plasma emission spectrophotometer (ICP). Studies using scanning electron microscope incorporated with X-ray microanalyzer showed that significant amounts of dust, with elevated concentrations of heavy metals, were deposited on the leaf surface. The stomatal pores were partially plugged and the guard cells were distorted. The amount of dust deposition and metal contamination varied significantly among different species. Lantana camara had the highest concentrations of all metals. Washing with deionized water could remove the surficial dust particles and reduce the metal contamination, with a degree of effectiveness depending on plant species and metal species. About 50% of Al and other metals were removed from leaves of L. camara and Fiscus variegata by washing, whereas only 20% removal was recorded in Bauhina variegata, the species had the least dust deposition. The soil samples and Al wastes collected from the same sites also exhibited higher values of total metal concentrations than the control. However, the contents of extractable metals were extremely low and were almost below the limits of detection. Experimental data further suggested that the source of leaf metals was mainly accumulated from metal-enriched aerosols, either from Al-fabrication plants or from automobile exhausts, and contribution from soil was relatively unimportant. Copyright © 1989 Published by Elsevier Ltd.