This study examined the release of cetylpyridinium chloride and benzalkonium chloride from fatty acid chelate temporary dental cement and their antimicrobial effects. The cement was Cavex Temporary, and either cetylpyridinium chloride or benzalkonium chloride was added (1% or 5% by mass), incorporating into the base paste. Release of the additives was determined by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Possible chemical interactions between the cement components and additives were examined by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Antimicrobial effects were assessed by measuring the zone of inhibition around sample discs after 24 h in a Streptococcus mutans culture. FTIR spectroscopy showed no interaction with cement components. For both additives, release was by diffusion for approximately the first 6 hours, with equilibration after about 2 weeks. Diffusion coefficients were 1.76 m(2) S-1/2 to 8.05 x 10(-12) m(2) S-1/2 and total release was 10.3 to 44.7% of additive loading. Zones of inhibition with additive were significantly larger than those for control discs. In conclusion, the antimicrobial properties of Cavex temporary cement are improved by the addition of the antimicrobial compounds cetylpyridium chloride and benzalkonium chloride, which are released by a diffusion process.