Over 70 naturally occurring and synthetic flavonoids were screened for mutagenicity with 5 tester strains in the Salmonella/mammalian microsome assay: TA1535, TA100, TA1537, TA1538 and TA98. Frameshift mutagenicity was confined to the flavonols (flavon-3-ols) in strain TA98, TA1537 and TA100. The two most mutagenic falvonols, namely, quercetin (3,3',4',5,7-pentahydroxyflavone) and kaempferol (3,4',5,7-tetrahydroxyflavone), exhibiting 12 and 7 revertants/nmol in TA98 respectively, are also the most common flavonols occurring in plants. Other flavonols exhibited less activity (revertants/nmol): galangin (2.0), rhamnetin (0.45), kaempferide (0.24), fisetin (0.14), myricetin (0.12), robinetin (0.06) and morin (0.05). All of these flavonols apparently exhibited significant activation by Aroclor 1254 induced rat-liver microsome preparations (S9). However, subsequent study revealed that only those flavonols either lacking or possessing one B ring hydroxyl group had an absolute requirement for microsomal activation. Alternatively, quercetin with two B-ring OH groups is not activated by microsomal enzymes, but by soluble (S100) enzymes from liver which are apparently constitutive and not subject to the usual chemical induction. 3 flavonol glycosides, namely, quercetrin (quercetin-3-O-rhamnoside), rutin (quercetin-3-O-rutinoside) and robinin (kaempferol-3-O-galactosido-rhamnoside-7-O-rhamnoside), were found to be nonmutagenic. They could, however, be activated by a variety of mixed glycosidases incorporated in the usual pour plate procedure. The most effective enzyme mixtures were obtained from rat cecal bacteria and from the snail Helix pomatia.