Experiments were performed: (i) to investigate potential age- and gender-dependent differences in mutagenic responses in T cells following exposures of B6C3F1 mice and F344 rats by inhalation for 2 weeks to 0 or 1250 ppm butadiene (BD), and (ii) to determine if exposures for 2 weeks to 62.5 ppm BD produce a mutagenic effect in female rats. To evaluate the effect of age on mutagenic response, mutant manifestation curves for splenic T cells of female mice exposed at 8-9 weeks of age were defined by measuring Hprt mutant frequencies (MFs) at multiple time points after BD exposure using a T cell cloning assay and comparing the resulting mutagenic potency estimate (calculated as the difference of areas under the mutant manifestation curves of treated versus control animals) to that reported for female mice exposed to BD in the same fashion beginning at 4-5 weeks of age. The shapes of the mutant T cell manifestation curves for spleens were different [e.g., the maximum BD-induced MFs in older mice (8.0+/-1.0 [S.D.]x10(-6)) and younger mice (17.8+/-6.1 x 10(-6)) were observed at 8 and 5 weeks post-exposure, respectively], but the mutagenic burden was the same for both age groups. To assess the effect of gender on mutagenic response, female and male rodents were exposed to BD at 4-5 weeks of age and Hprt MFs were measured when maximum MFs are expected to occur post-exposure. The resulting data demonstrated that the pattern for mutagenic susceptibility from high-level BD exposure is female mice>male mice>female rats>male rats. Exposures of female rats to 62.5 ppm BD caused a minor but significant mutagenic response compared with controls (n=16/group; P=0.03). These results help explain part of the differing outcomes/interpretations of data in earlier Hprt mutation studies in BD-exposed rodents.