Behcet's disease is a chronic multisystemic disease of unknown pathogenesis characterized by four major symptoms: oral aphthous ulcers, skin lesions, ocular symptoms and genital ulcerations. The disease is spread throughout the world, but it is most frequent in Turkey, Japan, Korea and China. Although HLA-Bw51 has been found to predominate in Behcet's cases, the genetic etiology has not yet been clarified. In this study, we investigated the chromosomal abnormalities and sister chromatid exchange rates in patients with Behcet's diseases. Thirty-eight patients with Behcet's disease (diagnosed for the first time) and 30 healthy subjects (as controls) were included in this study. Although numerical and structural chromosomal abnormalities were not detected in our patients, we found an increased rate of sister chromatid exchange in patients over the control groups (P < 0.01). On the basis of these results, we discuss the genetic etiology of Behcet's disease.