4 pyrrolizidine alkaloids, heliotrine, lasiocarpine, petasitenine, and senkirkine, were tested for their effects of V79 Chinese hamster cells. All the alkaloids produced cytoplasmic vacuolization, and caused cellular and nuclear enlargement. Chromosomal aberrations were induced in cells treated with the alkaloids. Heliotrine and petasitenine induced interchromosomal exchanges, and lasiocarpine and senkirkine caused chromatid gaps. All the alkaloids induced an 8-azaguanine-resistant mutation in V79 cells by direct treatment for 48 h. Mutation was also induced by treatment with the alkaloids for 1 h in the presence of a metabolic activation system.