1,2:3,4-Diepoxybutane is hypothesized to be the main intermediate involved in mutagenicity following exposure to low levels of 1,3-butadiene (BD) in mice, while metabolites of 3-butene-1,2-diol (BD-diol) are thought to become involved in both rats and mice at higher exposures. BD-diol is biotransformed to hydroxymethylvinyl ketone (HMVK), a potentially mutagenic metabolite, and 3,4-epoxy-1,2-butanediol (EB-diol), a known mutagen. To determine the relative importance of HMVK and EB-diol in BD-diol associated mutagenesis, we have examined the dosimetry of a HMVK derived DNA adduct, as well as EB-diol derived DNA and hemoglobin adducts, in rodents exposed to BD-diol. We previously demonstrated similarities in the shapes of the dose-response curves for EB-diol derived DNA adducts, hemoglobin adducts, and Hprt mutant frequencies in BD-diol exposed rodents, indicating that EB-diol was involved in the mutagenic response associated with BD-diol exposure. To examine the role of HMVK in BD-diol mutagenicity, a method to quantify the alpha-regioisomer of HMVK derived 1,N(2)-propanodeoxyguanosine (alpha-HMVK-dGuo) was developed. The method involved enzymatic hydrolysis of DNA, HPLC purification, and adduct measurement by liquid chromatography - tandem mass spectrometry. Intra- and inter-experimental variabilities were determined to be 2.3-18.2 and 4.1%, respectively. The limit of detection was approximately 5 fmol of analyte standard injected onto the column or 5 fmol/200 microg DNA. The method was used to analyze liver DNA from control female F344 rats and female F344 rats exposed to 36 ppm BD-diol. In addition, liver samples from female Sprague-Dawley rats exposed to 1000 ppm BD were analyzed. alpha-HMVK-dGuo was not detected in any of the samples analyzed. Several possible explanations exist for the negative results including the possibility that alpha-HMVK-dGuo may be a minor adduct or may be efficiently repaired. Alternatively, HMVK itself may be readily detoxified by glutathione (GSH) conjugation. While experiments must be conducted to understand the exact mechanism(s), these results, in addition to published EB-diol derived adduct dosimetry and existing HMVK derived mercapturic acid data, suggest that EB-diol is primarily responsible for BD-diol induced mutagenicity in rodents.