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The batteries, made by Panasonic, were sold with the Dell Inspiron 5000 and Inspiron 5000e models between 7 January 2000 and 21 March 2001.
The fault relates to a design flaw in the batteries, combined with another in the manufacturing process, which makes them liable to overheat and possibly catch fire, Dell said.
At least one notebook has caught fire because of this fault, prompting the recall.
Last October, Dell recalled 27,000 batteries used in some of its Latitude range of notebooks, following a similar overheating problem which resulted in a customer's machine catching fire.
Dell said Inspiron 5000 series customers should remove the battery from their notebook and contact Dell immediately to determine if the battery is part of this recall. Customers will receive one replacement battery for each battery identified as subject to recall, and a second battery after they return the recalled original.