Cigarette smokers have been reported to void urine which is more mutagenic than that voided by non-smokers, but the specific urinary mutagen(s) have not been identified. Since mechanistic studies are best performed in animal models, the objective of this study was to determine if a model to study the role of cigarette smoke and its components in urinary mutagenicity could be developed in rats. XAD-2 resin was used to concentrate the urine and the microsuspension modification of the Ames test used to quantify mutagenicity. Nicotine administered by intraperitoneal injection at 0.8 mg/kg (the maximum tolerated dose) or inhalation of carbon monoxide for 14 days at the maximum tolerated dose (1800 ppm, resulting in 68% carboxyhemoglobin) did not increase urinary mutagenicity. Cigarette smoke condensate (CSC) prepared by electrostatic precipitation of mainstream smoke increased urinary mutagenicity at doses of 100 and 200 mg/kg when administered acutely by either i.p. injection or gavage, verifying that the assay system was capable of detecting cigarette smoke-related mutagens in the urine. However, cigarette smoke administered by the appropriate route of exposure, nose-only inhalation, for 1, 7, 14 or 90 days (1 h per day) did not increase urinary mutagenicity. The smoke concentration administered was at or near the maximum tolerated dose as evidenced by carboxyhemoglobin concentrations of approximately 50%, and of 10% or more weight loss in exposed animals. Thus, although cigarette smoke condensate is mutagenic in vitro and mutagenic urine was observed when rats were given high doses of CSC by inappropriate routes of administration, acute or subchronic inhalation exposure to the maximum tolerated dose of whole cigarette smoke did not increase urinary mutagenicity in rats. These results indicate that the rat may be an inappropriate model to study urinary mutagenicity following the inhalation of tobacco smoke.