Data on human trisomic conceptuses suggest that the extra chromosome commonly has a maternal origin, and the amount and position of crossing-over on nondisjoined chromosomes is commonly altered. These observations may provide important clues to the etiology of human germ cell aneuploidy, especially in regard to evaluating whether environmental factors play a role. There is concordance of effects of environmental agents on fungi, plants, and animals, which suggests that the overall process of meiosis is well conserved and that chemical and physical agents can affect meiotic recombination, leading to aneuploidy. It seems likely that meiosis in humans will fit the general pattern of meiosis in terms of sensitivity to radiation and chemicals. Thus studies on other organisms provide some insight into the procedures necessary for obtaining useful human data. For example, frequencies of spontaneous meiotic recombination are not uniform per physical length in Drosophila, and different regions of a chromosome respond differently to treatment. Treatments that relieve constraints on the distribution of meiotic exchange, without changing greatly the overall frequency of exchange, may increase the number of univalents and give the impression that there are chromosome-specific responses. Recombination studies that monitor one or a few relatively short genetic regions may also give a false impression of the effects of a treatment on recombination. In addition, meiotic mutants in Saccharomyces and Drosophila highlight a number of processes that are important for production of an exchange event and the utility of that event in the proper segregation of both homologues and sisters. They also suggest that tests for pairing at pachytene, chiasmata at diplotene, and genetic crossing-over may give different results.