Results of the NIOSH Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance program (ABLES) for the third quarter of 1996 were reported and compared to earlier results. ABLES monitored laboratory reported elevated blood lead levels (BLL) among adults in 25 states. During July 1 through September 30, 1996, 4,990 BLL greater than 25 micrograms/deciliter (microg/dl) were reported, a 15% decrease from 5,888 reports for the third quarter of 1995. The number of BLL greater than 25microg/dl for the first three quarters of 1996 was decreased 11% compared with the number reported for the first three quarters of 1995. Of the 17 states reporting data each year during 1993 through 1995, the overall number of reports of BLL greater than 25microg/dl decreased by 3%, although increases were seen in six of the 17 states. The largest decrease was 44% (Oregon), and the largest increase was 215% (Iowa). During this same time period, the number of persons with reported elevated BLL decreased 18% overall in the 17 states, with decreases seen in nine states, but increases seen in the other eight states. The number of persons with new cases of elevated BLL decreased 42% overall, with decreases seen in all but Arizona. An editorial note indicated that these findings suggest a continued decline in overall number of detected cases of elevated BLL, which could be due to decreased occupational exposure to lead, decreased compliance with OSHA lead monitoring requirements, and/or a reduction in the workforce in lead using industries. Variation in nationwide quarterly results may be due to changes in the roster of participating states, changes in state surveillance programs, and/or interstate differences in worker BLL testing.