Monocyclic aromatic amines are environmental contaminants and many are promutagens and procarcinogens. Cultured tobacco cells, strain TX1, activated m-phenylenediamine into a frameshift mutagen that reverted the hisD3052 allele in Salmonella typhimurium strains TA98 and YG1024. However, the plant-activated products were refractory in strain TA98/1,8-DNP6. This indicated that these plant-activated products were substrates for bacterial acetyl-CoA: N-hydroxyarylamine O-acetyltransferase. A stable, high molecular weight (> 300 kDa) proximal mutagen was isolated by molecular ultrafiltration membranes. No parent compound was associated with the isolated mutagenic fraction. The high molecular weight fraction induced mutation in S. typhimurium strains TA98, YG1021 and YG1024. From these data we propose a model for the plant-activation of aromatic amine promutagens.