The (R)- and (S)-optical isomers of 9 epoxides, benzyloxymethyloxirane, epichlorohydrin, glycidol, glycidyl 3-nitrobenzenesulfonate, glycidyl 4-nitrobenzoate, glycidyl tosylate, styrene oxide, glycidyl 1-naphthyl ether and glycidyl 4-nitrophenyl ether, have been compared for their in vivo and in vitro genotoxicity. The in vitro short-term test employed was the Ames mutagenicity assay with Salmonella strain TA100. The in vivo tests were chromosomal aberrations (CA) as well as sister-chromatid exchange (SCE) in bone-marrow cells of mice following intraperitoneal administration of these epoxides. Differences in mutagenicity between isomers were established with TA100 for all the compounds. While 13 of the isomers were genotoxic compared to a negative control by CA measurements, only in the case of glycidyl 4-nitrobenzoate could a significant difference be found between isomers by this test. However, with SCE evaluations, differences were detected between the (R)- and (S)-isomers for all the pairs of compounds with the exception of those for benzyloxymethyloxirane and glycidyl 4-nitrophenyl ether. At least in part, differences in the patterns of genotoxicity among compounds can be related to their differences in reaction pathways.