Abstract A dose–effect curve is presented obtained by analysis of dicentric chromosomes and centric ring chromosomes in lymphocyte metaphase spreads of three healthy volunteers after in vitro 100 kV X-ray-irradiation of peripheral blood samples. This calibration curve follows a linear quadratic equation, y= c+ αD+ βD 2, with the coefficients: y=(0.0005±0.0001)+(0.0355±0.0066) D+(0.0701±0.0072) D 2. The model is based on 13.231 first-division metaphases analyzed after in vitro exposure to doses ranging from 0.1 to 2.0 Gy at a dose rate of 0.4 Gy min −1. Significant overdispersion of the observed chromosomal aberrations was evident for dose points 1.0 and 2.0 Gy, respectively. The calibration curve was applied to derive equivalent whole body doses of three subjects after suspected extensive exposure to diagnostic X-rays.