The influence of organic solvents on the mutagenicity of 11 N-nitrosamines was examined in Salmonella typhimurium TA100 using the Ames's liquid incubation assay in the presence of rat-liver S9. The mutagenic activities of N-nitrosodimethylamine, N-nitrosodiethylamine, 6 oxidative derivatives of N-nitrosopropylamine and N-nitroso-2,6-dimethylmorpholine were considerably decreased by addition of dimethyl sulfoxide, dimethyl formamide, acetone, 95% ethanol or acetonitrile, which are recommended for use as solvents in the assay by Ames's group, to the incubation mixture. The mutagenic activities of N-nitrosodipropylamine and N-nitrosodibutylamine, which are barely soluble in water, were also suppressed by increasing concentrations of dimethyl sulfoxide. These organic solvents did not appear to exert their influence by desmutagenic and antimutagenic actions. In contrast, the recoveries of unmetabolized carcinogens from preincubation mixtures and from agar plates were significantly higher in the presence of organic solvents than in their absence. The results indicate that the inhibitory effect is a result of interference with the process of metabolic activation by liver S9.