Baccharis dracunculifolia De Candole (Asteraceae), a native plant from the Brazilian "cerrado", is widely used in folk medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent and for the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. B. dracunculifolia has been described as the most important plant source of propolis in southeastern Brazil, which is called green propolis due to its color. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the mutagenic and antimutagenic effects of the ethyl acetate extract of B. dracunculifolia leaves (Bd-EAE) on Chinese hamster ovary cells. On one hand, the results showed a significant increase in the frequencies of chromosome aberrations at the highest Bd-EAE concentration tested (100 microg/mL). On the other hand, the lowest Bd-EAE concentration tested (12.5 micro/mL) significantly reduced the chromosome damage induced by the chemotherapeutic agent doxorubicin. The present results indicate that Bd-EAE has the characteristics of a so-called Janus compound, that is, Bd-EAE is mutagenic at higher concentrations, whereas it displays a chemopreventive effect on doxorubicin-induced mutagenicity at lower concentrations. The constituents of B. dracunculifolia responsible for its mutagenic and antimutagenic effects are probably flavonoids and phenylpropanoids, since these compounds can act either as pro-oxidants or as free radical scavengers depending on their concentration.