Environmental contaminations by certain metal compounds are bringing about serious problems to human health, including genetic hazards. It has been reported that some compounds of iron, manganese and mercury induce point mutations in microorganisms. Also it has been observed that those of aluminum, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, lead and tellurium cause chromosome aberrations in plants, insects and cultured human cells. The mechanism of mutation induction by these metals remains, however, still obscure. For screening of chemical mutagens, Kada et al, recently developed a simple and efficient method named rec-assay by observing differential growth sensitivities to drugs in wild and recombination-deficient strains of Bacillus subtilis. When a chemical is more inhibitory for Rec/sup -/ than for Rec/sup +/ cells, it is reasonable to suspect mutagenicity based on its DNA-damaging capacity. In the present report, 56 metal compounds were tested by the rec-assay. Compounds showing positive results in the assay such as potassium dichromate (K/sub 2/Cr/sub 2/O/sub 7/), ammonium molybdate ((NH/sub 4/)/sub 6/Mo/sub 7/O/sub 24/) and sodium arsenite (NaAsO/sub 2/) were then examined as to their capacities to induce reversions in E. coli Trp/sup -/ strains possessing different DNA repair pathways. 11 references, 3 tables.