Time-related changes in the incidences of spontaneous neoplasms in adrenals (medulla), mamma, liver, pituitary, and (endocrine) pancreas were assessed statistically in Wistar, Sprague-Dawley, and F344 rats employed by BASF, Germany and major European contract research organizations over the last 20 years. Negative trends (7 of 80 cases) were observed for pituitary pars distalis adenomas in Sprague-Dawley males and females, for pancreas islet cell adenomas in BASF Wistar males and females, for benign adrenal pheochromocytomas in Sprague-Dawley males, for malignant pheochromocytomas in F344 males, and for mammary gland fibroadenomas in BASF Wistar females. Positive trends (13 of 80 cases) were observed for benign pheochromocytomas, mammary gland adenocarcinomas, and pancreas islet cell carcinomas in HanWistar females, for malignant pheochromocytomas and islet cell carcinomas in BASF Wistar males, for benign pheochromocytomas and islet cell adenomas in F344 males, for mammary gland fibroadenomas in Sprague-Dawley females, and for benign hepatocellular tumors in HanWistar males and females, and in BASF Wistar and Sprague-Dawley females. In 60 of 80 cases there were no statistically significant trends. These results indicate that the majority of tumor types showed no time trends and that, in each rat strain, certain tumor types are susceptible to slight positive or negative time trends. Accordingly, the validity and use of historical control data should be based on an organ- and strain-specific statistical analysis of tumor incidence over time.