A considerable number of workers in the United States are employed in asphalt industries and are potentially exposed to asphalt fumes. The information regarding the potential carcinogenic hazards of such fumes to exposed workers is still limited. Studies have been conducted to determine the cytogenetic effects of roofing asphalt fume using cultured mammalian cells. Exponentially growing Chinese hamster lung fibroblasts (V79 cells) were exposed to different concentrations of condensates of type I and type III roofing asphalt fumes, generated at temperatures similar to actual roofing operation (316 ± 10°C). The frequencies of micronucleated cells in the treated and control cultures were determined. Additionally, immunofluorescent staining of kinetochore with human anti-kinetochore primary antibody and flouresceinated goat anti-human IgG was used to investigate the potential mechanism of micronucleus formation. The results show that both types of roofing asphalt fume condensates caused a significant increase in the frequency of micronucleated cells, and that 70% of micronucleated cells induced by asphalt fume condensates carried kinetochore-positive micronuclei. These findings indicate that both type I and type III roofing asphalt fumes are capable of causing principally cytogenetic damage by spindle apparatus alternations in cultured mammalian cells. © 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.