Previously the toxicity of 45 heterogeneous environmental chemicals on growth and membrane functions in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells (Cascorbi et al., 1993) was examined. In this study the inhibitory effects of the same set of chemicals on yeast RNA synthesis rate, measuring [2-14C]uracil uptake during cell proliferation are presented. The sensitivity of this test system was three to six times higher than that of the proliferation rate assay. In addition, the range of the EC20 values were similar to the range from the mammalian CHO cell proliferation test. The relatively good correlation with the yeast cell growth rate (r = 0.78, P = 0.0001) suggests that yeast RNA synthesis is a simple and rapid method of detecting a wide range of toxic compounds without the disadvantage of the insensitivity of the growth rate assay.