The interaction of CO with Cu5, Ni5, and Al 4 are treated as model systems for molecular adsorption on metal surfaces. The effect of the use of pseudopotentials for the metal atoms is studied by considering three types of clusters. In the first case, all of the metal electrons are explicitly included in the wave function: an all electron (AE) treatment. In the second case, the metal atom which directly interacts with the CO is described by as AE but the remaining metal atoms include a pseudopotential for their core electrons. Finally, in the third case, all of the metal atoms in the cluster have a pseudopotential treatment for the core electrons. The AE cluster results are taken as reference values for the two pseudopotential treatments. The mixed cluster results are in excellent agreement with those of the all AE clusters; however, the results for the all pseudopotential cluster of Ni5CO or of Cu5CO are qualitatively different. The pseudopotential treatment for all of the metal atoms often leads to results that contain serious errors and it is not a reliable approach. © 1984 American Institute of Physics.