The metabolism of the environmental carcinogen fluoroanthene by human liver microsomes was compared to that by liver microsomes from rats treated with Aroclor 1254. Although the human-derived system gave primarily one product, similar metabolites were noted from each system. Enantiomers of the major metabolic product, in both cases the trans-2,3-dihydrodiol, were separated by chiral stationary-phase chromatography. Absolute configurations were assigned by application of the benzoate exciton chirality rules to the CD spectra of the 4-(dimethylamino)benzoyl esters. Liver microsomes from Aroclor 1254-treated rats produced the R,R enantiomer of the diol in 75-78% enantiomeric excess, while human liver microsomes produced this enantiomer in only 6-12% excess. The activities of these enantiomers were compared in Salmonella typhimurium strain TM677 mutagenicity assays employing the 9000g supernatant of Aroclor 1254-induced rat liver homogenates. Both the syn- and anti-2,3-dihydrodiol 1,10b-epoxides, which had only been inferred to be metabolites in previous studies, were isolated from the microsomal incubations by preparative reverse-phase HPLC. The evident exceptional aqueous stabilities of these diol epoxides were further examined by half-life determination experiments. Their tetrahydrotetrol hydrolysis products were also noted in the metabolite HPLC profiles. The structures of the tetrahydrotetrols were confirmed by total synthesis.