Bio-oils, which are multicomponent mixtures, were produced from two different biomass (rice straw (rice oil) and sawdust of oak tree (oak oil)) by using the slow pyrolysis process, and chemical compositional screening with GC-MS detected several hazardous compounds in both bio-oil samples. The two bio-oils vary in their chemical compositional nature and concentrations. To know the actual hazard potentialities of these bio-oils, toxicological assessments were carried out in a comparative approach by using in vitro (Jurkat T and HepG2 cell) as well as in vivo (Caenorhabditis elegans) systems. A dose-dependent increase in cytotoxicity, cell death (apoptosis), and genotoxicity were observed in cultured cell systems. Similarly, the in vivo system, C. elegans also displayed a dose-dependent decrease in survival. It was found that in comparison with rice oil, oak oil displayed higher toxicity to all models systems, and the susceptibility order of the model systems were Jurkat T > HepG2 > C. elegans. Pursuing the study further toward the underlying mechanism by exploiting the C. elegans mutants screening assay, the bio-oils seem to mediate toxicity through oxidative stress and impairment of immunity. Taken together, bio-oils compositions mainly depend on the feedstock used and the pyrolysis conditions which in turn modulate their toxic potentiality. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 29: 1409–1419, 2014.