To estimate the genotoxic risk of occupational exposure to antineoplastic drugs, chromosomal aberration (CAs) frequencies in peripheral lymphocytes were determined for 20 nurses handling antineoplastics and 18 referents matched for age and sex. Urinary cyclophosphamide (CP) excretion rates, which are used as a marker for drug handling, were also measured on these nurses. We have observed significant frequencies of CAs (about 2.5-fold increase) including chromatid breaks, gaps, and acentric fragments for nurses handling antineoplastics as compared to control subjects (p<0.05, p<0.01, excluding and including gaps, respectively). The mean value of CP excretion rate for 12 nurses was 1.63 mug/24 h, suggesting that when the nurses handled CP (and other antineoplastic drugs) this particular compound was absorbed. Our study has shown that increased genetic damage was evident in nurses, at population level, due to occupational exposure to antineoplastics. Until the effects of handling antineoplastics from low-level exposure are known, it will be important to keep the exposure to a minimum.