Aromatic DNA adducts in the livers and blood of grey mullet (Mugil sp.) have been monitored between 1993 and 1996 by the isolation of DNA and the postlabeling of the DNA adducts with P-32. Th, grey mullet were sampled from three well-characterised harbours, two in the northeastern Mediterranean and one in the northeastern Black Sea near Trabzon close to a site of aquaculture. One of the northeastern Mediterranean harbours was highly polluted with polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and was rich in inorganic nutrients. Larger grey mullet lived in this harbour than the other harbours and their livers possessed similar to 100 aromatic DNA adducts per 10(8) nucleotides. The livers from grey mullet in the other two harbours possessed less than or equal to 25 aromatic DNA adducts per 10(8) nucleotides but these concentrations depended on a variety of factors. Blood cell being regenerated more rapidly than liver cells, it is found that generally the ratio of DNA adduct concentrations in piscine liver and blood will increase with the pollution of the surrounding marine environment. Fishes are acceptable models for the metabolism of xenobiotics and the associated formation of harmful aromatic DNA adducts in organisms. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.