Ultra-vital staining with acridine orange (AO) is introduced into the micronucleus assay with mouse peripheral blood cells. Peripheral blood was stained vitally by dropping whole blood on an AO-coated slide and covering the sample with a coverslip. With this method, reticulocytes are identified easily by their red fluorescing reticulum structure. The distinction between young and mature erythrocytes was clearer and less subjective than the distinction between polychromatic and normochromatic erythrocytes by Giemsa staining or by conventional AO fluorescent staining. Although the induction of micronucleated peripheral reticulocytes (MNRETs) was delayed by about 12 h compared to that of micronucleated polychromatic erythrocytes (MNPCEs) in the bone marrow, the frequencies of MNRETs and MNPCEs were almost identical at each optimal sampling time. It is concluded that bone marrow cells can be replaced by peripheral blood as material for the micronucleus assay.