A modified flow cytometry assay for Pig-A mutant rat red blood cells (RBCs) was developed using an antibody that positively identifies rat RBCs (monoclonal antibody HIS49). The assay was used in conjunction with a flow cytometric micronucleus (MN) assay to evaluate gene mutation and clastogenicity/aneugenicity in adolescent male and female rats treated with methylphenidate hydrochloride (MPH). Sprague-Dawley rats were treated orally with 3 mg/kg MPH (70/sex) or water (40/sex) 3 x /day on postnatal days (PNDs) 29-50. Eight additional rats (4/sex) were injected i.p. with N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU) on PND 28. Blood was collected on PNDs 29, 50, and 90, and used for determining serum MPH levels and/or conducting genotoxicity assays. On the first and last days of MPH treatment (PNDs 29 and 50), serum MPH levels averaged 21 pg/microl, well within the clinical treatment range. Relative to our previously published method (Miura et al. ; Environ Mol Mutagen 49: 614-629), the HIS49 Pig-A mutation assay significantly reduced the background RBC mutant frequency; in the experiments with ENU-treated rats, the modification increased the overall sensitivity of the assay 2-3 fold. Even with the increased assay sensitivity, the 21 consecutive days of MPH treatment produced no evidence of Pig-A mutation induction (measured at PND 90); in addition, MPH treatment did not increase MN frequency (measured at PND 50). These results support the consensus view that the genotoxicity of MPH in pediatric patients reported earlier (El-Zein et al. : Cancer Lett 230: 284-291) cannot be reproduced in animal models, suggesting that MPH at clinically relevant levels may be nongenotoxic in humans.