According to epidemiologic studies, exposure of women to fumes from cooking oils appears to be an important risk factor for lung cancer. Fume samples from three different commercial cooking oils frequently used in Taiwan were collected and analyzed for mutagenicity in the Salmonella/microsome assay. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were extracted from the samples and identified by HPLC chromatography. Extracts from three cooking oil fumes were found to be mutagenic in the presence of S9 mix. All samples contained dibenz[a,h]anthracene (DB[a,h]A) and benz[a]anthracene (B[a]A). Concentration of DB[a,h]A and B[a]A were 1.9 and 2.2 micrograms/m3 in fumes from lard oil, 2.1 and 2.3 micrograms/m3 in soybean oil, 1.8 and 1.3 micrograms/m3 in peanut oil, respectively. Benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) was identified in fume samples of soybean and peanut oil, in concentrations of 19.6 and 18.3 micrograms/m3, in this order. These results provide experimental evidence and support the findings of epidemiologic observations, in which women exposed to the emitted fumes of cooking oils are at increased risk of contracting lung cancer.