Vanillin (VA), an anticlastogen, has been demonstrated to inhibit gene mutations in both bacterial and mammalian cells. However, the data on its effect against radiation-induced cytogenetic damage are limited. The aim of this study was to investigate the protective effect of VA on radiation-induced chromosomal damage in V79 cells. Exponentially growing cells were exposed to five doses of X-rays (1-12 Gy) and UV radiation (50-800 uh x 102 cm-2) and posttreated with 3 concentrations of VA (5, 50 or 100 ug ml(-1s) for 16 h for micronucleus (MN) and 18 h for structural chromosomal aberration (SCA) analyses. MN and SCA assays were performed concurrently according to standard procedures. Results indicate that there was a dose related increase in the percent of micronucleated binucleated cells (MNBN) (5.6 to 79.6) and percent of aberrant cells (Abs) (12 to 98) with X-ray treatment alone. Inhibition studies showed that the addition of VA at 100 g ml-1 significantly reduced the percent of MNBN (21 to 48) induced by X-rays at 1, 2, and 4 Gy. There was a slight decrease in percent MNBN at 5 and 50 g VA ml-1. All three concentrations of VA decreased percent Abs (15.7 to 57.1) induced by X-rays at all doses. UV radiation alone significantly increased percent MNBN (3.5 to 14.8) and percent Abs (17 to 29). Addition of 50 or 100 g VA ml-1, significantly decreased percent MNBN (31.7 to 86.2) and percent Abs (54.5 to 90.9) at all doses of UV radiation. A decrease in percent MNBN (2.8 to 72.4) and percent Abs (34.8 to 66.7) was also noted at 5 ug VA ml-1. These data clearly indicate the protective effect of VA on radiation-induced chromosomal damage, suggesting that VA is an anticlastogenic agent.