C3H/He mice bearing SCC VII tumours received 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) continuously for 5 days via implanted mini-osmotic pumps to label all proliferating (P) cells. The mice then received gamma-ray irradiation, or administration of tirapazamine (TPZ), cisplatin or bleomycin. At various time points after each treatment, tumour-bearing mice were irradiated with a series of test doses of gamma-rays, while alive or after being killed, to obtain hypoxic fractions (HFs) in the tumours. Immediately after gamma-ray test irradiation, the tumours were excised, minced and trypsinized. Tumour cell suspensions obtained were incubated with cytochalasin-B, a cytokinesis blocker, and the micronucleus (MN) frequency in cells without BrdU labelling (i.e. quiescent (Q) cells) was determined using immunofluorescence staining for BrdU. MN frequency in the total (P + Q) tumour cells was determined from the tumours that were not pre-treated with BrdU. MN frequency of BrdU-unlabelled cells was then used to calculate the surviving fraction of the unlabelled cells from the regression line for the relationship between the MN frequency and the surviving fraction of total tumour cells. TPZ and cisplatin reduced the HF after treatment, especially in Q cells, and this tendency was particularly marked with TPZ. In contrast, bleomycin increased the HF after treatment. Both reoxygenation following gamma-ray irradiation or bleomycin treatment and a subsequent return to pre-treatment levels of HF following TPZ or cisplatin treatment (rehypoxiation) occurred more rapidly in total (P + Q) cells than in Q cells. Based on our previous report that total (P + Q) and Q cells within this tumour have large acutely and chronically HFs, respectively, we conclude that acute hypoxic cells play a major role in reoxygenation and rehypoxiation in SCC VII tumours.