Abstract Lymphohematopoietic neoplasia are one of the most common types of cancer induced by therapeutic and environmental agents. Of the more than 100 human carcinogens identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, approximately 25% induce leukemias or lymphomas. The objective of this review is to provide an introduction into the origins and mechanisms underlying lymphohematopoietic cancers induced by xenobiotics in humans with an emphasis on acute myeloid leukemia, and discuss the implications of this information for risk assessment. Among the agents causing lymphohematopoietic cancers, a number of patterns were observed. Most physical and chemical leukemia-inducing agents such as the therapeutic alkylating agents, topoisomerase II inhibitors, and ionizing radiation induce mainly acute myeloid leukemia through DNA-damaging mechanisms that result in either gene or chromosomal mutations. In contrast, biological agents and a few immunosuppressive chemicals induce primarily lymphoid neoplasms through mechanisms that involve alterations in immune response. Among the environmental agents examined, benzene was clearly associated with acute myeloid leukemia in humans, with increasing but still limited evidence for an association with lymphoid neoplasms. Ethylene oxide and 1,3-butadiene were linked primarily to lymphoid cancers. Although the association between formaldehyde and leukemia remains controversial, several recent evaluations have indicated a potential link between formaldehyde and acute myeloid leukemia. The four environmental agents examined in detail were all genotoxic, inducing gene mutations, chromosomal alterations, and/or micronuclei in vivo. Although it is clear that rapid progress has been made in recent years in our understanding of leukemogenesis, many questions remain for future research regarding chemically induced leukemias and lymphomas, including the mechanisms by which the environmental agents reviewed here induce these diseases and the risks associated with exposures to such agents.