Administration of ethylnitrosourea (ENU) (20, 25, 40, 50, and 60 mg/kg body weight) or methylnitrosourea (MNU) (25, 40, 50, 60, 75, and 80 mg/kg body weight) to male CD-1 mice 2 hours after subcutaneous implantation of 5-bromo-2'-deoxyurdine (BrdUrd) pellet (55 mg) resulted in a dose-dependent increase in sister chromatid exchanges (SCE) in bone marrow cells. Treatment with ENU (50 mg/kg body weight) at several time points prior to BrdUrd implantation resulted in a biphasic curve of SCE induction indicating at least two events that result in SCEs. Treatment with ENU at the time of BrdUrd implantation and post-BrdUrd reflected a similar mechanism apparent in the preBrdUrd curve. Treatment with MNU (50 mg/kg body weight) pre- and post-BrdUrd resulted in a linear monophasic curve of SCE induction in both the pre- and post-BrdUrd time periods. The overall MNU time-course curve resembled an inverted V function indicating the mechanism of SCE induction for ENU and MNU are different.