Simultaneous, fluorescent in situ hybridization using a centromeric human alpha satellite DNA probe and a telomeric DNA probe was used to analyze the chromosome content of micronuclei induced in two-cell human-hamster embryos by in vitro γ-ray irradiation of human spermatozoa. In unirradiated samples, about 26% of micronuclei were centromere positive, indicating that both structural chromosome aberrations and numerical changes are involved in the spontaneous production of micronuclei. After exposure of spermatozoa to radiation, a significant increase in the number of micro-nuclei was found. About 77% of induced micronuclei contained only telomeric signals suggesting that they originated from acentric fragments. However, both centromere-positive and centromere-negative micronuclei increased with radiation dose. These results are consistent with the well known clastogenic effect of ionizing radiation and with its weak an eugenic effect. © 1996 S. Karger AG, Basel.