The hopping rate of localized charged particles in metals is studied. The density-density correlation function is calculated in the presence of electron-electron interactions. The equation-of-motion method is used to calculate the two-particle Greens function. Explicit results for correlation functions are obtained within the generalized random-phase approximation. The Coulomb repulsion between electrons is represented by an effective potential, which takes account of short-range correlation effects. We found that the hopping rate is greatly reduced by electronic virtual excitations. Unlike previous theories, our calculations show that both particle-hole and plasmon excitations contribute to the renormalization of the tunneling matrix. It is shown that electron correlations effectively reduce the hopping rate at low temperatures. It is also shown that the effect of dynamic screening increases the hopping rate. Calculation shows that the reduction due to plasmon excitation can be as large as one to two orders of magnitude in normal metals. © 1991 The American Physical Society.