Acute myeloid leukaemias induced by ionizing radiation in mouse are characterized by chromosome (chr) 2 aberrations. While it is known that chr 2 aberrations form early and in abundance post-irradiation, unequivocal evidence for hypersensitivity of chr 2 in the first post-irradiation mitoses is lacking. Here it is established that chromosomal aberrations detected in bone marrow cells by chromosome painting are induced in all mice at an approximately 2-fold greater frequency in chr 2 by comparison with chrs 1 and 3 at 24 and 48 h following in vivo whole-body X-irradiation. Long-term follow up studies (to 15 months post-irradiation) indicated that chromosomal hypersensitivity is accounted for largely by the existence of hot-spots for aberration formation on sensitive chromosomes. Analysis of clonal developments suggested that chr 2 aberrant clones are selected for entry into the proliferating bone marrow cell compartment in preference to cells with other aberrations and that these clones in general have a higher proliferative potential. However, neither the induction of chr 2 aberrations nor the presence of a chr 2 aberrant clone specifically predict the development of AML in an individual irradiated mouse. Nonetheless these events or sub-groups of these events are necessary for AML development.