Pesticides represent a major proportion of the chemical pollutants detected in French coastal waters and hence a significant environmental risk with regards to marine organisms. Commercially-raised bivalves are particularly exposed to pollutants, among them pesticides, as shellfish farming zones are subject to considerable pressure from agricultural activities on the mainland. The aims of this study were to determine (1) the genotoxic effects of diuron exposure on oyster genitors and (2) the possible transmission of damaged DNA to offspring and its repercussions on oyster fitness. To investigate these points, oysters were exposed to concentrations of diuron close to those detected in the Marennes-Oleron Basin (two 7-day exposure pulses at 0.4 and 0.6 μg L(-1)) during the gametogenesis period. Genomic abnormalities were characterized using two complementary approaches. The Comet assay was applied for the measurement of early and reversible primary DNA damage, whereas flow cytometry was used to assess the clastogenic and aneugenic effect of diuron exposure. Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers (POCIS) were used in exposed and assay tanks to confirm the waterborne concentration of diuron reached during the experiment. The results obtained by the Comet assay clearly showed a higher level of DNA strand breaks in both the hemocytes and spermatozoa of diuron-exposed genitors. The transmission of damaged genetic material to gamete cells could be responsible for the genetic damage measured in offspring. Indeed, flow cytometry analyses showed the presence of DNA breakage and a significant decrease in DNA content in spat from diuron-exposed genitors. The transmission of DNA damage to the offspring could be involved in the negative effects observed on offspring development (decrease in hatching rate, higher level of larval abnormalities, delay in metamorphosis) and growth. In this study, the vertical transmission of DNA damage was so highlighted by subjecting oyster genitors to short exposures to diuron at medium environmental concentrations. The analysis of POCIS showed that oysters were exposed to integrated concentrations as low as 0.2 and 0.3 μg L(-1), emphasizing the relevance of the results obtained and the risk associated to chemical contamination for oyster recruitment and fitness.