Male and female B6C3F1 mice were administered dichloroacetate (DCA) and trichloroacetate (TCA) in their drinking water at concentrations of 1 or 2 g/l for up to 52 weeks. Both compounds induced hepatoproliferative lesions (HPL) in male mice, including hepatocellular nodules, adenomas and hepatocellular carcinomas within 12 months. The induction of HPL by TCA was linear with dose. In contrast, the response to DCA increased sharply with the increase in concentration from 1 to 2 g/l. Suspension of DCA treatment at 37 weeks resulted in the same number of HPL at 52 weeks that would have been predicted on the basis of the total dose administered. However, none of the lesions in this treatment group progressed to hepatocellular carcinomas. Conversely, the yield of HPL at 52 weeks when TCA treatment was suspended at 37 weeks was significantly below that which would have been predicted by the total dose administered. In this case, 3 of 5 remaining lesions were hepatocellular carcinomas. Throughout active treatment DCA-treated mice displayed greatly enlarged livers characterized by a marked cytomegaly and massive accumulations of glycogen in hepatocytes throughout the liver. Areas of focal necrosis were seen throughout the liver. TCA produced small increases in cell size and much a more modest accumulation of glycogen. Focal necrotic damage did not occur in TCA-treated animals. TCA produced marked accumulations of lipofuscin in the liver. Lipofuscin accumulation was less marked with DCA. These data confirm earlier observations that DCA and TCA are capable of inducing hepatic tumors in B6C3F1 mice and argue that the mechanisms involved in tumor induction differ substantially between these two similar compounds. Tumorigenesis by DCA may depend largely on stimulation of cell division secondary to hepatotoxic damage. On the other hand, TCA appears to increase lipid peroxidation, suggesting that production of radicals may be responsible for its effects.