Inbred mice vary in their susceptibility to develop macroscopic, chemically-induced, pulmonary neoplasias. It is not known, however, whether microscopic lesions appear in resistant strains but do not grow or if no early lesions arise at all. We show herein that resistant C57BL/6J (B6) and intermediately resistant BALB/cByJ (BALB) mice form very few urethane-induced early microadenomas (i.e. adenomas larger than hyperplasic foci, but detectable only by light microscopy). Additionally, while all urethane-induced microadenomas in sensitive A/J mice gave rise to adenomas, most microscopic tumors induced in BALB mice by 2-stage, 3-methylcholanthrene/butylated hydroxytoluene carcinogenesis spontaneously regressed. The formation of microscopic lesions is thus genetically dependent, but whether they continue to grow or regress depends on how they were induced.