In the search for early biological markers to detect genetic damage, a pilot study on a hydroarsenicism-exposed group was designed. Blood and urine samples were taken from 11 individuals chronically exposed and from 13 individuals with lower exposure to the metal. Lymphocyte cultures for cytogenetic studies and HGPRT assay were done with coded peripheral blood samples, while arsenic levels and the "rec assay" in B. subtilis were determined in urine samples. The highly exposed group excreted greater amounts of As, nevertheless the rec assay showed negative results. An interesting finding is that the cell-cycle kinetics exhibited a significant difference between the groups studied, the average generation time (AGT) was longer in the highly exposed group. The percentages of chromosomal aberrations and the frequencies of sister-chromatid exchanges were similar in both populations, although complex aberrations were more frequent in the highly exposed group, which also showed a higher average variation frequency in the HGPRT assay, but the 2 latter observations were not statistically significant. The lag in lymphocyte proliferation could mean an impairment of the immune response due to arsenic exposure.