Acrylamide was tested without exogenous activation in L5178Y/TK+/- -3.7.2C cells for mutation at the thymidine kinase locus and for clastogenicity. Acrylamide gave a positive induced mutagenic response (approximately 70 mutants/10(6) survivors) when tested at 600-650 micrograms/ml. The highest dose tested (850 micrograms/ml) resulted in an induced mutant frequency of approximately 380 mutants/10(6) survivors (survival = 13%). Acrylamide induced almost exclusively small-colony mutants, indicating that it might be acting by a clastogenic mechanism. As predicted, acrylamide was clastogenic, inducing both chromatid and chromosome breaks and rearrangements. A clearly positive clastogenic response was observed at both the 750 micrograms/ml and 850 micrograms/ml doses, which showed 16 and 64 aberrations per 100 cells, respectively (background = 3 aberrations per 100 cells). These studies indicate that the L5178Y/TK+/- mouse lymphoma assay can detect some chromosomal mutagens (clastogens) that show little activity in other single gene mutation assays, the CHO/HPRT and Salmonella.