Long-term exposure to extremely-low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF EMFs) greater than 0.4 microT has been linked, by epidemiological studies, to a small elevated risk of childhood leukaemia. Laboratory-based experiments have been claimed to show that ELF EMFs induce a variety of biological responses, although these claims are controversial. Recent experiments by Ivancsits et al. [Mutat. Res. 519 (2002) 1; Int. Arch. Occup. Environ. Health 76 (2003) 431; Mech. Age. Dev. 124 (2003) 847; H.W. Rüdiger, S. Ivancsits, E. Diem, O. Jahn, Genotoxic effects of ELF-EMF on human cells in vitro, Bioelectromagnetics Society 25th Annual Meeting, Maui, USA, 2003] suggest that ELF EMFs are genotoxic, on the basis of observations that intermittent exposures induce single-strand breaks (SSB) and double-strand DNA breaks (DSB) in the DNA of cultured human fibroblasts. The implications of these findings are discussed.