Environmental exposure to metals is believed to affect marine mammal health adversely including immunosuppression or acute as well as chronic inflammatory processes leading to hypersensitivities or autoimmune diseases. Metal-specific hypersensitivities were found in several pinnipeds of the North Sea. However, hypersensitivity is a complex phenomenon whose characteristics are still not completely understood; in particular, effects on health are not well established. In the present study, we compared basic hematological and biochemical parameters of seals with and without metal-specific hypersensitivities. We found altered hematological parameters and liver enzyme patterns in seals with a metal-induced hypersensitivity, including a reduction in macrophages, an increase in lymphocytes, and elevated levels of lactate dehydrogenase. These findings support the suggestion of a chronic influence of metal pollutants on the health of marine mammals of the North Sea. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.