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In order to test the delayed effect of radiation on the progeny of irradiated survivors, the human keratinocyte cell line HaCaT and the fish common bluegill embryonic cell line CHSE/F were exposed to low-dose high-LET α-radiation from Ra-226 or γ-rays. The clonogenic survival fraction, mitochondrial membrane polarization (MMP) and reproductive ability of the descendants of the surviving cells were measured. For progeny of irradiated HaCaT survivors, no delayed cell death occurred. On the contrary, progeny at about 47 cell doublings after Ra-226 irradiation and progeny at about 14 cell doublings after γ-irradiation showed increased clonogenic survival. However the total cell number was reduced for progeny of Ra-226-treated cells up to about 47 cell doublings after irradiation and for progeny of γ-irradiated cells up to about 28 doublings after irradiation, which means low reproductive ability had appeared. In addition, α-radiation from Ra-226 had greater impact on the MMP of the HaCaT progeny than γ-rays. MMP of progeny of Ra-226-treated cells decreased at 5 cell doublings after irradiation and increased dose-dependently at 19 cell doublings after treatment, and then decreased dose-dependently at 47 cell doublings, while there was no significant effect on MMP in progeny of γ irradiated cells. The progeny of Ra-226-irradiated CHSE/F survivors showed more serious damage than the offspring of γ-irradiated CHSE/F cells. Significant, dose-dependent delayed cell death occurred in progeny of surviving cells up to about 61 cell doublings after Ra-226 treatment, and the reproductive ability was also significantly reduced. But the MMP increased, which might be because of the increased removal of dead cells. For progeny of CHSE/F cells surviving γ-rays radiation, no significant change in clonogenic survival occurred, except for offspring of cells surviving low dose (0.1 Gy and 0.5 Gy) irradiation, which had higher survival than control up to about 28 cell doublings after irradiation. But the number of cells which were the progeny of γ-irradiated survivors decreased dose-dependently up to about 28 cell doublings after γ-irradiation.Chronic low-dose high-LET α-radiation from Ra-226 is effective in inducing lethal mutations.Decreased clonogenic survival did not occur in descendants of irradiated HaCaT survivors, and hormesis may be induced.Mitochondrial membrane depolarization may be involved in the induction of lethal mutation.