Data from previous studies published on the induction by mutagens of sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) and structural chromosome damage were compared qualitatively and quantitatively. Although a good correlation between the incidence of both cytogenetic phenomena has been pointed out in many previous publications, about 30% of the agents for which comparable data were available yielded non-corresponding qualitative results concerning both indicator effects. However, even in groups with good qualitative agreement distinct quantitative differences indicated different molecular mechanisms of the formation of SCEs and breaks. Additional information supporting the importance of these differences for the validity of both indicator systems has been derived from the results obtained using strong clastogens exhibiting a low or no SCE-inducing activity and vice versa, from special observations on chromosomal breakage syndromes, and from studies on the action of known co- and anti-clastogens on SCE-induction by chemical mutagens. As a result, it has been suggested that the SCE-technique should be considered as a valuable additional method for cytogenetic mutagenicity testing, which, however, is not adequate to replace the classical methods of analysis of structural chromosome damage.