The goal of this study was to investigate the ability of fluoride to modulate the genotoxic effects induced by the oxidative agent hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and the alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) in vitro by the single-cell gel (comet) assay. Chinese hamster ovary cells were exposed in culture for 1 h at 37 degrees C to sodium fluoride at 7-100 microg/ml. NaF-treated and control cells were then incubated with 0-10 microM MMS in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) for 15 min at 37 degrees C, or 0-100 microM H2O2 in distilled water for 5 min on ice. Negative control cells were treated with PBS for 1 h at 37 degrees C. Clear concentration-related effects were observed for the two genotoxins. Increase of DNA damage induced by either MMS or H2O2 was not significantly altered by pretreatment with NaF. The data indicate that NaF does not modulate alkylation-induced genotoxicity or oxidative DNA damage as measured by the single-cell gel (comet) assay.