The effect of storage on MMS-induced recessive lethals in the zeste-white (3A1-3C2) and the maroon-like (18F4-20F) regions was studied by complementation analysis. (1) Without any exception, all 52 mutants (from unstored spermatozoa) mapped in the zeste-white region were restricted to single complementation units. Furthermore, none of an additional 15 lethals, sampled from sperm that had been stored in females for 9-12 days, was associated with a deletion. (2) Of 34 mutations induced by 8.5 X 10(-2) mM MMS in the maroon-like (mal) region, 4 spanned 2 or more complementation units, and thus are considered to be deletions. A high dose of 2.5 mM MMS provided 55 lethals for analysis of which 4 were deletions. There was no evidence for any difference in the frequency of deletions as the MMS concentration was enhanced from 8.5 X 10(-2) mM to 2.5 mM. However, with storage, 47.1% lethals (16 of 34 mutants induced by 2.5 mM MMS) mapped in the mal region were found to involve large structural changes. (3) A high proportion of double mutants in both the zeste-white (z w) and the maroon-like regions was found among the chromosomes analyzed. These double mutants have one lethal positioned within the region studied and the other outside it. Clearly, the proportion of double mutants increased with dose, from 6.3 to 41.7% in z w and from 14.7 to 61.8% in the mal section. Apurinic sites in DNA reacted with MMS are considered as the likely primary lesions responsible for the storage effect on MMS-induced recessive lethals in the mal region. Thus, the ability of MMS to produce delayed deletion lethals seems to correlate with preference for alkylation of base nitrogens. An interesting aspect for further analysis is the apparent infrequency in the zeste-white region of alkylation-induced chromosomal breakage, as observed by various investigators for MMS, EMS and MNNG.