The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the effects of treadmill exercise on tumor induction in an experimental model for breast cancer. Female F-344 rats were injected i.p. with 50 mg MNU/kg body wt at 50 and 57 days of age. Animals were assigned to one of five groups: sham exercise or 35% or 70% maximal treadmill running intensity for 20 or 40 min/day, 5 days per week. These work rates represent an exercise intensity level generally considered insufficient to improve cardiovascular fitness (35% maximal intensity) or an aerobic level of exercise sufficient to improve cardiovascular fitness in humans (70% maximal intensity). Rats were exercised for 3 months following carcinogen administration at which time the experiment was terminated. Mammary cancer incidence was reduced by as much as 37% and cancer multiplicity by < 60% at the highest exercise intensity. Unexpectedly, the degree of protection against cancer was proportional to the intensity but not to the duration of exercise.