Male, female, pregnant female, and fetal ICR mice were compared for their acute sensitivity to four single doses of model carcinogens, as measured by micronucleus formation in polychromatic erythrocytes 24 h after treatment in adult bone marrow and fetal liver at days 17-19 of gestation. Cyclophosphamide caused a dose-responsive increase in micronuclei in all groups, without a consistent difference based on gender or pregnancy. At doses of 50 and 75 mg/kg given orally to the pregnant female, the fetuses were three to six times as sensitive as was the mother. Benzo(a)pyrene showed a similarly increased sensitivity of the fetus relative to the other groups, although it is a much weaker clastogen. Benzidine did not cause an increase in micronuclei in any group, although it was thought that the fetal liver might have been sensitive enough to detect it, relative to adult bone marrow. Benzene caused much less response in females than in males and almost no response in pregnant females and their fetuses, even though pregnant females metabolized at least half as much of the total dose as did the males (as measured by the presence of urinary metabolites of benzene). No single metabolite of benzene in the urine was consistently correlated with micronucleus formation in the bone marrow. Several factors must be interacting in different ways for different chemicals to influence their clastogenicity.