Female Fischer 344 (F344) rats were exposed to N-nitrosodiphenylamine (NDPA) by dietary feed at concentrations of 0, 250, 1000, 2000, 3000 or 4000 ppm for 5 days, 2, 4 and 13 weeks duration. Endpoints evaluated included clinical observations, body weights, urinary bladder weights, blood NDPA, gross pathology and urinary bladder histopathology. There were no NDPA exposure-related clinical signs of toxicity. The mean body weight decreased 3% to 5% compared with the control in the 4000 ppm group during study weeks 2 through to 13. Statistically significant increases in urinary bladder weight were observed as early as after 5 days exposure and were concentration dependent at ≥ 3000 ppm. NDPA-related urinary bladder microscopic alterations consisted of mixed cell infiltrates, increased mitosis, increased necrosis of epithelial cells, diffuse and/or nodular transitional epithelial hyperplasia and squamous metaplasia of transitional epithelium. These changes affected only rats exposed to NDPA concentrations ≥ 2000 ppm. Blood NDPA concentrations were negligible in animals exposed to ≤ 1000 ppm and ranged from 0.12 to 0.19 µg ml–1 in rats of the ≥ 2000 ppm groups at the 5 days and 2 weeks time points. A no observable adverse effect level (NOAEL) of 1000 ppm NDPA (60 mg kg–1 day–1) was selected based on the absence of urinary bladder histopathology. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.