Epidermal hyperplasia and sebaceous gland destruction - good indicators of carcinogenic potential - were studied in short-term mouse skin experiments following application of BaP and TPA dissolved either in a peanut oil mixture or in acetone. Subsequently, the carcinogenicity of BaP and DMBA alone or in association with TPA was dissolved in the same vehicles, and determined in mouse long-term skin tests. In parallel, ODC activity and binding to DNA, RNA and proteins were examined in epidermal cells after exposure to TPA and BaP respectively. When the peanut oil excipient was used as a solvent, a complete inhibition of BaP and TPA activities was observed in short-term skin tests, as well as a complete inhibition of BaP, DMBA and TPA carcinogenicity in long-term tests. TPA-induced ODC activity was suppressed by the peanut oil mixture while BaP binding to nucleic acids and proteins of epidermal cells was only slightly inhibited. These results indicate that the excipient possesses anti-carcinogenic potentials for epidermal cells. The persistence of BaP binding to macromolecules in epidermal cells without tumor development suggests that the carcinogenic action of BaP may include both genotoxic and epigenetic mechanisms.