The aim of this study was to determine the possible genotoxic effects of biphenyl (E230), which is used as an antimicrobial agent in food by using sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs), chromosome aberrations (CAs), and micronucleus (MN) tests in human peripheral lymphocytes. The human peripheral lymphocytes were treated with four concentrations of biphenyl (10, 30, 50, and 70 mu g/mL) for 24- and 48-h treatment periods. In the present study, biphenyl significantly increased the frequency of SCEs, CAs, and the frequency of MN when compared with both untreated control and solvent (dimethyl sulfoxide) control. The inductions of these abnormalities were in a dose-dependent manner. Biphenyl was capable to induce the structural CAs instead of numerical CAs. Biphenyl also showed a cytotoxic effect by decreasing the replication index at the highest two concentrations for 48 h and nuclear division index at the highest two concentrations for the 24- and 48-h treatment periods. However, biphenyl did not affect the mitotic index (MI).