Increase in neoplasia in offspring after preconception exposure of parents presents puzzling features such as high frequency of effects and lack of Mendelian inheritance. The present study examined the hypothesis that preconception carcinogenesis involves an increase in the rate of occurrence of neoplasms with a spontaneous incidence. Male NIH Swiss mice (12 per group) were exposed 2 weeks before mating (once, ip) to urethane (1.5 g/kg) or chromium(III) chloride (1 mmol/kg). Offspring (48-78/sex/group) were examined for all grossly apparent changes when moribund or at natural death, followed by histopathological diagnosis and statistical analysis. Significant exposure-related changes occurred in multiple organs. Ten to 20 percent of offspring showed changes related to paternal exposure, including at least one sired by most treated males. Pheochromocytomas occurred in both male and female offspring after both treatments, with none in controls. These neoplasms are rare in mice and suggest endocrine dysfunction as a component of preconception carcinogenesis. This was supported by increases in thyroid follicular cell and Harderian gland tumors, ovarian cysts, and uterine abnormalities. Lung tumors were increased in female offspring only. Effects seen in offspring only after paternal urethane exposure were an increase in preneoplasia/neoplasia in the glandular stomach (males) and in females, increased lymphoma but decreased incidence of histiocytic sarcoma. Increases in incidence of male reproductive gland tumors and of renal non-neoplastic lesions occurred only after chromium exposure. Thus, preconception exposure of fathers to toxicants had a significant impact on both neoplastic and non-neoplastic changes in almost all tissues in which these lesions often occur naturally during the aging process.