Mainstream cigarette smoke particles were collected by means of a smoking machine, and sidestream particles were collected from the room in which the smoking took place. The particles were extracted by sonication with acetone, and the extracts were solvent-exchanged to dimethyl sulfoxide. The samples were tested for mutagenicity in the Ames Salmonella/microsome assay. The mainstream extract is preferentially mutagenic in the presence of S9, with about 30,000 revertants/cigarette in TA98, but has little or no activity in its absence. The sidestream extract is also mutagenic in the presence of S9 with TA98, and this activity is mainly due to basic compounds. Sidestream smoke is also significantly mutagenic in the absence of S9 in the strain TA100 as well as in TA97 and TA104. This "direct" activity is due to components that are labile. The response of sidestream particles is 10,000-20,000 revertants/cigarette in TA98 + S9 and TA100-S9 when the collection is performed in a room where the particle concentration is modulated by deposition to surfaces. Sidestream particles collected on glass fiber filter and by electrostatic precipitation (ESP) with a commercial air cleaning device gave essentially the same mutagenic response, showing that ESP sampling may be an alternative to filter sampling for environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in indoor environments. ESP sampling in children's rooms in smoking and nonsmoking homes showed that 5-10% of the tobacco smoke emitted in the smoking homes entered the child's room, demonstrating that diffusion of pollutants is faster than ventilation in modern buildings with low ventilation rates.