Acute (2 h) exposure of rats to a 60 Hz magnetic field (flux densities 0.1, 0.25, and 0.5 mT) caused a dose-dependent increase in DNA strand breaks in brain cells of the animals (assayed by a microgel electrophoresis method at 4 h postexposure). An increase in single-strand DNA breaks was observed after exposure to magnetic fields of 0.1, 0.25, and 0.5 mT, whereas an increase in double-strand DNA breaks was observed at 0.25 and 0.5 mT. Because DNA strand breaks may affect cellular functions, lead to carcinogenesis and cell death, and be related to onset of neurodegenerative diseases, our data may have important implications for the possible health effects of exposure to 60 Hz magnetic fields. Bioelectromagnetics 18:156–165, 1997. © 1997 Wiley-Liss, Inc.