The mutagenic effectiveness of ethylnitrosurea (ENU) was assessed in treated spermatogonia of DBA/2 mice. In a total of 17,515 offspring examined following 160 mg ENU/kg body weight treatment of parental males, 26 forward specific-locus mutations, 2 reverse specific-locus mutations and 9 dominant cataract mutations were recovered. ENU increased the mutation rate to all 3 genetic endpoints. However, ENU was less effective in treated DBA/2 mice than in the standard experimental protocol employing treated hybrid (102 X C3H)F1 male mice. This observed difference for a direct-acting mutagen such as ENU may result from differences in the detoxification of ENU or from differences in the DNA-repair capabilities of strain DBA/2. The first documented reverse mutation of the b allele is reported. The reversion was shown to be due to an AT to GC transition. To date, in addition to the reverse mutation of the b allele, 5 independent ENU-induced mutations recovered in germ cells of the mouse have been molecularly characterized and all have been shown to be base substitutions at an AT site. This is in contrast to the expected mechanism of ENU mutation induction due to O6-ethylguanine adduct formation which results in a GC to AT base-pair substitution and emphasizes the complexities of mutagenesis in germ cells of mammals.