In this study the focus is on the comparison of fluorometric assays, using Alamar Blue (AB) and Hoechst 33342 coloration, and luminometric assays, using Cyto-Lite and ATP-Lite, for toxicity measurements. With AB, ATP-Lite and Cyto-Lite the energy status of the cell is measured and with Hoechst 33342 the amount of DNA. These assays were carried out with different dosages of several toxic compounds with the following permanent cell lines: human liver (Hep G2), human endometrium (ECC-1), human cervix (HeLa) and Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. In these assays toxicity of 110 compounds was assessed in Hep G2 cells. With 60 of those, toxicity was assessed in Hela, ECC-1 and CHO cells. These compounds were non-narcotic antitussives, nasal decongestants, narcotic analgesics, hypnotics, vasodilators, specific cellular energy blockers, cellular proliferation inhibitors, ion channel blockers, estrogens, antiestrogens, androgens, progestagens and others. The outcome of this study is that all four cell lines were responsive to the same set of 60 drugs with a comparable indication of toxicity. Hep G2 cells appear slightly more sensitive, as compared to the other three cell lines. Evaluation up to dosages of 3.2 x 10(-4) or even 3.2 x 10(-3)M for some of the compounds for these four assays in Hep G2 cells demonstrated toxicity for 45 of the 60 (75%) reference compounds with known toxicity in these assays. With a new set of 50 compounds, among which there were estrogens, androgens, progestagens and antiestrogens, 18 (36%) were identified as toxic up to a concentration of 3.2 x 10(-5)M. In conclusion, many of the 60 tested reference compounds gave similar dose and toxicity effects on these permanent cell lines. Therefore, all these cell lines can be used for toxicity screening with AB, ATP-Lite, Cyto-Lite and Hoechst 33342. However, species specific cell lines may reveal species specific effects, as shown with digoxin.