The genotoxic potential of 42.2 +/- 0.2 GHz electromagnetic millimeter-wave radiation was investigated in adult male BALB/c mice. The radiation was applied to the nasal region of the mice for 30 min/day for 3 consecutive days. The incident power density used was 31.5 +/- 5.0 mW/cm2. The peak specific absorption rate was calculated as 622 +/- 100 W/kg. Groups of mice that were injected with cyclophosphamide (15 mg/kg body weight), a drug used in the treatment of human malignancies, were also included to determine if millimeter-wave radiation exposure had any influence on drug-induced genotoxicity. Concurrent sham-exposed and untreated mice were used as controls. The extent of genotoxicity was assessed from the incidence of micronuclei in polychromatic erythrocytes of peripheral blood and bone marrow cells collected 24 h after treatment. The results indicated that the incidence of micronuclei in 2000 polychromatic erythrocytes was not significantly different among untreated, millimeter wave-exposed, and sham-exposed mice. The group mean incidences were 6.0 +/- 1.6, 5.1 +/- 1.5 and 5.1 +/- 1.3 in peripheral blood and 9.1 +/- 1.1, 9.3 +/- 1.6 and 9.1 +/- 1.6 in bone marrow cells, respectively. Mice that were injected with cyclophosphamide exhibited significantly increased numbers of micronuclei, 14.6 +/- 2.7 in peripheral blood and 21.3 +/- 3.9 in bone marrow cells (P< 0.0001). The drug-induced micronuclei were not significantly different in millimeter wave-exposed and sham-exposed mice; the mean incidences were 14.3 +/- 2.8 and 15.4 +/- 3.0 in peripheral blood and 23.5 +/- 2.3 and 22.1 +/- 2.5 in bone marrow cells, respectively. Thus there was no evidence for the induction of genotoxicity in the peripheral blood and bone marrow cells of mice exposed to electromagnetic millimeter-wave radiation. Also, millimeter-wave radiation exposure did not influence cyclophosphamide-induced micronuclei in either type of cells.