The direct carcinogenic effects of sidestream (SS) and mainstream (MS) smoke condensates of a filtered commercial brand of blond cigarettes were compared using a lifetime mouse skin tumorigenicity assay on female NMRI mice. Each cigarette was smoked by a smoking machine under the standard conditions, and the separately collected SS and MS smoke condensates were extracted with acetone/methanol as described elsewhere. These were tested for carcinogenicity on an area of 1-1.5 cm shaved skin of mice on the lower back. The mice were treated with half of each dose (5, 10 or 15 mg) twice a week, for only 3 months. No substance was used as promoter or as an additional initiator of carcinogenicity. No statistically significant difference was found when the life spans of MS-treated and untreated animals were compared. In contrast, the life spans of SS-treated mice were significantly (P less than 0.01) shorter than those of MS-treated animals or those of all three negative control groups together. The observed carcinogenic effects were based on tumours and lesions found only on the site of application of the test material. Of 210 mice (effective number, 129) serving as the negative controls, 3 developed skin lesions but no tumours. Of 210 MS-treated mice (effective number, 177), 7 developed tumours (4 malignant and 3 benign) and 35 had a uniform type of precancerous skin lesions. The numbers of tumours or lesions were not increased dose-dependently. Of 210 SS-treated animals (effective number, 182), 30 developed tumours (16 malignant and 14 benign) and 56 had a uniform type of precancerous skin lesion. The initiation of these latter lesions was found to be dose-dependent (P less than 0.001). The SS-treated animals developed two to six times more skin tumours than the MS-treated mice. Comparing the negative controls with the MS- or SS-treated animals, the overall carcinogenic effect observed was statistically significant. Comparing the MS- with SS-treated animals, the overall carcinogenic effect of SS was much higher than that of MS (P less than 0.001).