Previous studies have shown that 5-methylchrysene (5-MeC) is more carcinogenic on mouse skin than the other methylchrysenes and that the structural requirements favoring tumorigenicity of methylated polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons are the presence of a bay region methyl group and free peri position, both adjacent to an unsubstituted angular ring. The purpose of this study was to extend these structure-activity relationships to dimethylchrysenes. The following dimethylchrysenes were synthesized: 1,5-dimethylchrysene (1,5-diMeC), 5,6-diMeC, 5,7-diMeC, 5,12-diMeC, 1,6-diMeC, 6,7-diMeC, and 6,12-diMeC. Bioassays of these compounds for tumor-initiating activity on mouse skin demonstrated that all were significantly less tumorigenic than 5-MeC; only 5,6-diMeC had significant tumorigenic activity. Since the relatively low activities of 5,7-diMeC and 5,6-diMeC were unexpected on the basis of the structural requirements stated above, anti-1,2-dihydroxy-3,4-epoxy-l,2,3,4-tetrahydro-5,7-dimethylchrysene (anti-5,7-diMeC-1,2-diol-3,4-epoxide) was synthesized. Its mutagenicity in Salmonella typhimurium and reactivity with calf thymus DNA were compared to those of the major ultimate carcinogen of 5-MeC, anti-5-MeC-1,2-diol-3,4-epoxide. It was strongly mutagenic (2500 revertants/nmol), although less active than anti-5-MeC-1,2-diol-3,4-epoxide (7200 revertants/nmol). Its reactivity with calf thymus DNA was similar to that of anti-5-MeC-1,2-diol-3,4-epoxide. The results of this study demonstrate that the structural requirements which favor tumorigenicity of monomethylchrysenes are not sufficient for high tumorigenicity of dimethylchrysenes.