Tobacco smoke is highly genotoxic and produces chromosomal damage in several experimental systems. Active smokers have been shown to have an increased prevalence of somatic chromosome damage in their peripheral blood lymphocytes: this is seen in most cases as an increased sister-chromatid exchange (SCE) frequency and often also as increased structural chromosome aberrations (CAs). Among passive smokers, in association with exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, no such induction of chromosomal damage has been documented. In the present paper we report negative results on induction of chromosomal damage in 2 separate groups of intensive involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke, non-smoking restaurant personnel and newborn children of smoking mothers. While significant exposure in these groups is clearly seen in biochemical intake markers, e.g. cotinine and thiocyanate values in plasma, the conventional cytogenetic parameters, structural chromosome aberrations and sister-chromatid exchanges, are unable to detect the low exposures of involuntary smokers.