Ethylene oxide (EtO), propylene oxide (PO) and epichlorohydrin (ECH) are important industrial chemicals widely used as intermediates for various synthetic products. EtO and PO are also environmental pollutants. In this review we summarize data published during the period 1990-2001 concerning both the genotoxic and carcinogenic effects of these epoxides in humans. The use of DNA and hemoglobin adducts as biomarkers of exposure and the role of polymorphism, as well as confounding factors, are discussed. We have also included recent in vitro data comprising genotoxic effects induced by EtO, PO and ECH in mammalian cells. The uncertainties regarding cancer risk estimation still persist, in spite of the large database collected.