The aim of this study was to investigate the role of nickel in orthodontic treatment-induced gingival hyperplasia. The nickel concentration in gingival tissues with and without overgrowth, histopathology of gingival overgrowths, and epithelial cell proliferation response to different nickel concentrations were analysed. Ten patients receiving orthodontic therapy (eight females and two males, mean age 15.4 years) were included in the study. Hyperplastic and healthy gingiva samples were collected from the same patients. The amount of nickel in the gingival tissue samples was analysed using the atomic absorption spectrometry technique. The tissues removed from hyperplastic areas during gingivectomy were also used for histological analysis. To analyse the effect of nickel on epithelial cell proliferation, four different nickel concentrations (0.5, 2, 5, and 10 mu g) were incubated with keratinocyte cells for 11 days. Mann-Whitney U-test, analysis of variance, and Tukey's test were used in the statistical analyses.