Possible mutagenic activity of the asbestos dusts crocidolite and chrysotile, and fine and coarse glass, was assessed in CHO-K1 cells, human fibroblasts and human lymphoblastoid cells using the sister-chromatid exchange assay and by examining the effects on cell kinetics. Asbestos caused no dose-related increase in sister-chromatid exchange levels in any of the cell types. However, mitotic delay was induced in CHO-K1 cells and human fibroblasts. The order of magnitude of induced delay in CHO-K1 cells was chrysotile greater than fine glass greater than crocidolite greater than coarse glass. Mitotic inhibition was more pronounced in these cells if they were still in suspension when initially exposed to the dusts compared with 1 h after plating.