3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD) is a member of a group of chemicals known as chloropropanols. It is found in many foods and food ingredients as a result of food processing. 3-MCPD is regarded as a rat carcinogen known to induce Leydig-cell and mammary gland tumours in males and kidney tumours in both genders. The aim of our study was to clarify the possible involvement of genotoxic mechanisms in 3-MCPD induced carcinogenicity at the target organ level. For that purpose, we evaluated DNA damages in selected target (kidneys and testes) and non-target (blood leukocytes, liver and bone marrow) male rat organs by the in vivo alkaline single cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay, 3 and 24 h after 3-MCPD oral administration to Sprague-Dawley and Fisher 344 adult rats. 3-MCPD may be metabolised to a genotoxic intermediate, glycidol, whereas the predominant urinary metabolite in rats following 3-MCPD administration is beta-chlorolactic acid. Therefore, we also studied the DNA damaging effects of 3-MCPD and its metabolites, glycidol and beta-chlorolactic acid, in the in vitro comet assay on CHO cells. Our results show the absence of genotoxic potential of 3-MCPD in vivo in the target as well as in the non-target organs. Glycidol, the epoxide metabolite, induced DNA damages in CHO cells. beta-Chlorolactic acid, the main metabolite of 3-MCPD in rats, was shown to be devoid of DNA-damaging effects in vitro in mammalian cells.