Effects of the dietary antioxidants α-tocopherol (α-Toc), t-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), propyl gallate (PG) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) were examined using a multi-organ carcinogenesis model. Groups of 20 F344 male rats were treated with a single intragastric administration of 100 mg/kg body weight N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguani-dine, a single intragastric administration of 750 mg/kg body weight N-ethyl-N-hydroxyethylnitrosamine, two subcutaneous injections of 0.5 mg/kg body weight N-methylbenzyl-nitros-amine and four subcutaneous injections of 40 mg/kg body weight 1,2-dimethylhydrazine. At the same time the rats were given 0.1% N-dibutylnitrosamine for 4 weeks and then 0.1% 2, 2'-dihydroxy-di-n-propyhiitrosamine for 2 weeks in the drinking water, for a total carcinogen exposure period of 6 weeks. Starting 3 days thereafter the rats received 1% α-Toc, 1% TBHQ, 1% PG or 0.7% BHT in the diet, or basal diet alone. Further groups of 10–15 animals each were treated with antioxidant alone or basal diet alone as controls. Surviving animals were killed at the end of week 36. Histo-pathological examination showed that α-Toc increased the incidence of glandular stomach atypical foci but reduced the incidence and multiplicity of kidney atypical tubules. TBHQ significantly elevated the incidences of esophageal papillary or nodular (PN) hyperplasias and papillomas, as well as forestomach papillomas, but significantly decreased the multiplicity of colon adenocardnomas. PG was only effective in reducing the multiplicity of kidney atypical tubules. BHT enhanced the development of thyroid hyperplasias, but strongly reduced the incidence and multiplicity of colon adenocarcinomas. This compound was also associated with lowered incidence and multiplicity of renal cell tumors. None of the agents studied was unequivocal in exerting either positive or negative influence.