The single-cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE) assay and the micronucleus (MN) test were carried out with haemocytes of Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) specimens to evaluate the potential genotoxicity of benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) and pp'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (pp'-DDE, a metabolite of pp'-DDT). Mussels were exposed to three different concentrations (0.1 microg/L, 2 microg/L, 10 microg/L) of each chemical in water during 168 h (SCGE assay) and 96 h (MN test) of exposure under laboratory conditions. These levels correspond to nominal molar concentrations of 0.4 nM, 7.9 nM and 40 nM for BaP and 0.3 nM, 6.2 nM and 31 nM for pp'-DDE, respectively. Concurrently, the levels of toxicants were measured in soft tissues of the mussels by gas-chromatographic analyses, to evaluate their temporal trends and the dose/response relationships. Significant increases of the ratio between the comet length and the diameter of the comet head (LDR) and of micronucleus frequencies in comparison with baseline levels were observed not only for all concentrations of BaP, but also for pp'-DDE (except 0.3 nM). The concentration above which DNA damage starts to be significantly increased was 0.8 nmol/g lipids for BaP and 1.6 nmol/g lipids for pp'-DDE, respectively. The results of these experiments show a clear genotoxic effect on this non-target organism not only for the well-known genotoxicant BaP, but also for the final metabolite of pp'-DDT at soft-tissue concentrations that have been found in several aquatic ecosystems worldwide.