The urinary excretion of mutagens and thioethers was investigated in a controlled diet study and in two field studies. A diet containing charcoal-broiled meat and other items rich in mutagenic compounds increased the urinary mutagenicity as assessed in Salmonella typhimurium strain TA98 with metabolic activation approximately 46-fold compared to a diet low in mutagens. The excretion of thioethers after ingestion of the diet rich in mutagens also increased significantly when compared to the diet low in mutagens. The increase was associated with the content of preformed thioethers in the diet. In the first field study with 21 nonsmokers, urinary mutagenicity as assessed in Salmonella typhimurium strain TA98 and excretion of thioethers showed no relation to either the self-reported exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or to serum cotinine concentrations used as an objective marker for ETS exposure. In the second field study, urinary mutagenicity was determined with a tobacco-smoke sensitive Salmonella typhimurium strain YG1024 with metabolic activation. No correlation was found between the mutagenic activity in urine and ETS exposure duration, nicotine on the personal sampler, cotinine in saliva and cotinine in urine. Our results suggest that real-life ETS exposure does not measurably increase either urinary mutagen or urinary thioether excretion. Furthermore, diet seems to be the most important source for both urinary mutagen and thioether excretion in nonsmokers.