Abstract The influence of diesel fuel composition on mutagenicity of exhaust particle associated organic compounds has been investigated using nine fuels varying in aromatic content and distillation properties. The tests were conducted with Oldsmobile Delta-88 and Peugot 504 diesel cars operated according to the EPA Federal Test Procedure. The particulate exhaust from each test was collected on a filter, extracted in dichloromethane and the resulting extract evaluated for mutagenicity in Salmonella strain TA-100. Mutagenicity of extracts of particles collected from the Oldsmobile were highest in the higher aromatic content fuels (> 30%) but similar for intermediate (20%) and low (13%) aromatic content fuels. No influence of aromaticity on mutagenicity was observed in samples collected from the Peugeot under the same conditions. Thus, fuel aromatic content may enhance the production of mutagenic combustion products at higher concentrations, but may be dependent upon engine type. A good correlation was observed between mutagenicity of the particle extracts and the initial boiling point of the fuel (r = 0.89). Gas chromatography/mass spectrometric analysis of the aromatic fraction of the fuels showed that the fuel producing the most mutagenic combustion products was highest in phenanthrene type compounds.