Active oxygen species are thought to be involved in the causation of a number of diseases including cancers. We have investigated the effect of 5 oxidative mutagens, methyl viologen (paraquat), mitomycin C, phenylhydrazine, cumene hydroperoxide and hydrogen peroxide, on the frequency of both intrachromosomal recombination and interchromosomal recombination in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. All of the chemicals significantly increased the frequency of intrachromosomal recombination in a dose-dependent manner. Only hydrogen peroxide increased the frequency of interchromosomal recombination at the doses tested in this study. A role for hydroxyl radical (.OH) in the effect of H2O2 on recombination is indicated by the ability of the radical scavenger dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) to significantly inhibit the induction of both intrachromosomal and interchromosomal recombination by H2O2. The results presented here give further support for the suitability of intrachromosomal recombination measurements as a short-term test for the detection of mutagens and carcinogens.