The frequency of mutant T lymphocytes defective in T-cell receptor gene (alpha or beta) expression was measured using the 2-color flow cytometric technique. Results for a total of 203 atomic bomb survivors, 78 of whom were proximally exposed (DS86 doses of greater than or equal to 1.5 Gy) and 125 of whom were distally exposed (DS86 dose of less than 0.005 Gy), showed that the mutant frequency was significantly higher in males than in females. No significant dose effects were observed. In contrast, a significant increase of mutant frequency was observed for 6 patients treated with Thorotrast, a contrast medium containing thorium-232 formerly used for radioligands. In addition, thyroid disease patients treated with 131I showed a dose-related increase of mutant frequency. It was suggested that the present T-cell receptor mutation assay has a unique characteristic as a biological dosimeter for measurement of recent exposures to genotoxic agents.