The genotoxicity of extractable organic matter (EOM) from airborne particles in Shanghai has been determined using short-term bioassays. EOM samples were investigated using cell morphological transformation and two-stage model of mouse skin tumorigenicity assays to detect their carcinogenic activity. DNA adducts were detected using the 32P-postlabeling technique. The results showed that EOMs induced cell morphological transformation and played a role in tumor-initiating carcinogenesis. The EOMs of airborne particles from different districts of Shanghai had similar carcinogenic activity except the result of sample E (at downtown of Shanghai) was relatively high. The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) fraction makes a major contribution to carcinogenic activity according to the results of cell morphological transformation assay. DNA adducts were also detected in skin, liver, and kidney of mouse after treatment with EOMs. It is suggested that the urban airborne particles in Shanghai, which show carcinogenic potential and genotoxic activity in our bioassays, may be responsible for the increased incidence of lung cancer in Shanghai in last few years.