The stochastic effects in the lung of inhaled, insoluble particles of alpha- and beta-emitting particles and low-linear energy transfer (LET) thoracic irradiation were compared in rats using data from previously conducted studies. Male and female F344 rats were exposed briefly by nasal inhalation to relatively insoluble aerosols of CeO(2) or PuO(2) to achieve a range of four lung burdens. The mean lifetime beta doses to the lung were 3.6 + or - 1.3 Gy, 6.8 + or - 1.7 Gy, 12 + or - 4.5 Gy, and 37 + or - 5.9 Gy. The mean lifetime alpha doses to the lung were 0.06 + or - 0.03 Gy, 0.95 + or - 0.46 Gy, 3.7 + or - 1.6 Gy, and 12 + or - 2.4 Gy. Additional rats were exposed to fractionated thoracic doses of x rays given on 10 successive working days. The lifetime doses to the lung were 3.3 Gy, 5.7 Gy, 11 Gy, and 38 Gy. Appropriate sham controls were included in each group and all groups were observed for their life spans. Lung neoplasms were found after all exposures, with the incidence increasing with radiation dose. Rats exposed to PuO(2) had the highest incidence, 94% in the group with a dose of 12 Gy. The incidence in the groups exposed to inhaled CeO(2) or fractionated thoracic x-irradiation was not significantly different. The incidence of lung tumors in the PuO(2) groups was 21 times higher than that of the groups exposed to the lower LET radiations. These results support a radiation-weighting factor of 20, as recommended by ICRP 60.