The strains of mice, C57BL/6J, DBA/2J, and B6D2F1/J, have been used as models to study the mechanism of action of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). The distribution, excretion, and metabolism of this compound was studied in male C57BL/6J, DBA/2J, and B6D2F1/J mice following the intraperitoneal administration of radiolabeled TCDD at a dose of 10 micrograms/kg. In all strains, the liver and adipose tissue were the major sites for the accumulation of 3H-TCDD, with more 3H-TCDD being distributed to the livers of the C57BL/6J and B6D2F1/J strains as compared to the DBA/2J strain. While in all strains the feces were the major route of elimination, the total amount of 3H-TCDD-derived radioactivity excreted in the feces amounted to approximately 72% of the original dose in the C57BL/6J and B6D2F1/J strains whereas this was only 54% in the DBA/2J strain. The half-lives for the cumulative excretion of radioactivity in the feces were similar in all strains. The half-life for the excretion of radioactivity in the urine was considerably greater in the DBA/2J strain as compared to the C57BL/6J and B6D2F1/J strains. The estimated half-lives for the total cumulative excretion of 3H-TCDD-derived radioactivity by all routes was 11.0, 24.4, and 12.6 days for the C57BL/6J, DBA/2J, and B6D2F1/J strains, respectively. Greater than 85% of the total radioactivity excreted in urine, bile, and feces from all three mouse strains was present as metabolites of TCDD.