Near-ultraviolet light (UVA: 320-400 nm) constitutes a major part of sunlight UV. It is important to know the effect of UVA on the biological activities of organisms on the earth. We have previously reported that black light induces somatic-cell mutation in Drosophila larvae. To investigate which wavelength of the UVA is responsible for the mutation we have now carried out a series of monochromatic irradiations (310, 320, 330, 340, 360, 380 and 400 nm) on Drosophila larvae, using the large spectrograph of the National Institute for Basic Biology (Okazaki National Research Institutes, Okazaki, Japan). Mutagenic activity was examined by the Drosophila wing-spot test in which we observe mutant wing hair colonies (spots) on the wings of adult flies obtained from the treated larvae. The induction of mutation was highest by irradiation at 310 nm and decreased as the wavelength became longer. Neither the 380 nor the 400 nm light was mutagenic. Excision repair is known to protect cells from UV damage. In the excision-repair-deficient Drosophila, the mutagenic response induced by 310 nm irradiation was 24-fold higher than that of the wild-type (7.2 +/- 1.5 spots/wing/kJ vs 0.3 +/- 0.08 spots/wing/kJ), and at 320 nm the difference of the response was 14-fold (0.21 vs 0.015 +/- 0.005). In the case of irradiation at 330 and 340 nm the difference of the response was only two-fold (at 330 nm, 6.9 +/- 2.9 x 10(-3) vs 3.1 +/- 1.1 x 10(-3) spots/wing/kJ; at 340 nm, 3.5 +/- 0.9 x 10(-3) vs 2.0 +/- 0.7 x 10(-3). These results suggest that the lesion caused in the larvae by 320 nm irradiation may be similar to the damage induced by 310 nm and that the lights of 330 and 340 nm may induce damage different from the lesions induced by shorter-wavelength lights.