Calf thymus DNA was modified in vitro by cis-diamminedichloroplatinum(II) (cisDDP), complexed with methylated bovine serum albumin and used to immunize rabbits. The anti-cisDDP-DNA antiserum obtained was applied in a double peroxidase-antiperoxidase staining procedure to localize cisDDP-DNA and cis-diammine(1,1-cyclobutanedicarboxylato)platinum(II) (CBDCA)-DNA interaction products in cryostat tissue sections of mice and rats. Rats received cisDDP (0-10 mg/kg) and were killed after 24 h. Mice received cisDDP (0-15 mg/kg) or CBDCA (200 mg/kg), and were killed after 2 h-162 days. For each time-dose combination two mice or one rat were used; agents were given i.p. Specific nuclear staining was observed in all tissues examined from cisDDP- or CBDCA-treated animals. No significant nuclear staining could be observed in tissue sections from control rats and mice. The extent of staining after cisDDP was dose and time dependent. The lowest dose of cisDDP after which specific nuclear staining could be detected varied from tissue to tissue [e.g., 0.1 mg/kg, pancreas (mouse); 0.5 mg/kg, liver, kidney (mouse, rat)]. The longest time interval after a single dose of 6 mg/kg cisDDP in which adducts could be visualized also depended on the tissue and varied between 9 days (spleen, testis) and 162 days (kidney). The staining intensity in liver and kidney, measured microdensitometrically, decreased relatively fast in the first days after treatment, but much slower thereafter. In the kidney, cisDDP-induced DNA modification showed regional variation: inner cortex greater than outer cortex greater than medulla (rat) and cortex greater than medulla (mouse). In the mouse kidney, a small subpopulation of tubular cells in close association with the renal corpuscles showed a remarkably high staining intensity after both cisDDP and CBDCA administration. Tissues that showed clear cisDDP-induced histological alterations (kidney, pancreas, testis, and duodenum) also showed moderate to high levels of cisDDP-DNA interaction products. A correlation between cell damage (measured histologically) and cisDDP-DNA binding within one tissue type was demonstrated in the rat inner renal cortex, the murine renal cortex, and in duodenal epithelial cells of both mice and rats.