Abstract Three 2-substituted pyrroles (2-acetylpyrrole, pyrrole-2-carboxaldehyde and pyrrole-2-carboxylic acid), which are products of the Maillard browning reaction, were reacted with nitrite in buffer solution (pH 3) at 50°C for 24 hr. The reaction mixtures were extracted with methylene chloride and the extracts were tested for mutagenicity using Salmonella typhimurium strains TA97, TA98, TA100, TA102 and TA104, with and without S-9 metabolic activation. The methylene chloride extract of the 2-acetylpyrrole-nitrite reaction mixture showed strong mutagenicity to all the tester strains, both in the presence and absence of S-9 mix. The reaction product of pyrrole-2-carboxaldehyde with nitrite only gave a weak mutagenic response with strain TA100, while the pyrrole-2-carboxylic acid-nitrite reaction product did not produce a mutagenic response in any of the tester strains. Two mutagenically active fractions, separated by thin-layer chromatography, were found in the reaction of 2-acetylpyrrole with nitrite. The formation of mutagenic products in the latter reaction was found to vary with reaction pH, time and temperature, with nitrite level and with 2-acetylpyrrole concentration.