Little is known about the effects of snuff use on health. We have investigated electrolyte levels, adrenocortical and calcium regulating hormones in three groups of healthy young men, including 18 non-tobacco users, 21 snuff users and 19 smokers with similar age and body mass index. Smoking and snuff use was positively associated with alcohol and coffee consumption and inversely related to physical activity. Compared to non-tobacco users, smokers had significantly increased levels of serum sodium and magnesium, plasma calcitonin, urinary cortisol and potassium levels and decreased serum sex hormone-binding globulin as well as serum and urinary creatinine values. However, only decreased sexual hormone-binding globulin and urinary creatinine and increased serum phosphate and urinary potassium levels were seen in snuff users. Among tobacco users we noted that smokers differed from snuff users in that they had higher serum sodium (1.4mmol/l, p<0.01), plasma calcitonin (3.3 pmol/l, p<0.05) and urinary cortisol (41 nmol/24 h, p<0.05) but lower serum creatinine (5.8 μmol/l, p <0.01). We conclude that chronic snuff use appears to have less influence on hormone and electrolyte balance than does smoking, and that some of the abnormalities seen in smokers do not seem to be mediated by nicotine.