The rate of cell attachment to the culture substratum is reduced in mouse L cells by hyperthermia at 44 degrees C. The time for 50 per cent attachment of the cells increases rapidly with increasing time of heating immediately before assay. The rate of attachment after 44 degrees C does not show a linear correlation with clonogenic survival, ruling out the use of attachment as a rapid assay of clonogenic survival. The attachment process is less sensitive to heat in cells made thermally tolerant by a prior heat treatment. In contrast, ultrasound irradiation at 37 degrees C and below the cavitational threshold (1.5 MHz, 2.2 W/cm2, 15 min) did not alter the rate of attachment, but at 44 degrees C, ultrasound decreased both clonogenic survival and the rate of attachment to a much greater extent than 44 degrees C alone. As the temperature increase caused by the ultrasound was less than 0.5 degrees C, the data provide evidence of a non-thermal component of ultrasound damage.