Most chemical carcinogens are not active in themselves but require bioactivation to electrophiles that bind covalently to DNA and often act by producing mutations. In recent years it has been realized that mutations can be important at many stages of carcinogenesis. A variety of different enzymes are involved in bioactivation reactions, which include oxidation, reduction, thiol conjugation, acetyl transfer, sulfur transfer, methyl transfer, glucuronosyl transfer, and epoxide hydrolysis. These processes often occur in concert with a single carcinogen. Humans vary considerably in activities of these enzymes and this variation may contribute to differences in risk.