Fifteen cancer patients, including 10 testicular carcinoma patients, were treated with several types of combination chemotherapy. Blood samples were collected before, during and after chemotherapy. Subsequently, lymphocytes were analyzed for frequencies of HPRT mutants (MF) and micronuclei (MNF). Significantly elevated MFs were detected in eight patients. Mean expression time (+/- SD) for mutations was 98 +/- 54 days (range: 42-172 days). In some patients, enhanced MFs persisted for a period of 430-490 days after cessation of chemotherapy. In five patients MNFs were increased 2-6-fold and the enhancement was fairly persistent. Ifosfamide and cyclophosphamide appeared to be the most mutagenic and clastogenic constituents of the chemotherapy, while evidence for adverse effects of adriamycin, 4-epi-adriamycin and bleomycin was equivocal. Results indicate that the clinical use of mutagenic drugs must be weighed against the risks of persistent genetic damage and secondary malignancies in cured patients and their potential offspring. Further studies are necessary to determine the true risks and incidence of such abnormalities following chemotherapy for curable forms of cancer.