Directly active mutagens are formed on exposure of the promutagen benzo[a]pyrene to gaseous pollutants in smog. In simulated atmospheres containing 1 part per million nitrogen dioxide and traces of nitric acid, directly mutagenic nitro derivatives are readily formed from both benzo[a]pyrene and perylene, a non-mutagen in the Ames reversion assay. Possible formation of direct mutagens by such reactions on sample collection filters, in exhaust effluents, and in the atmosphere should be recognized.