Random mutagenesis screens for recessive phenotypes require three generations of breeding, using either a backcross (BC) or intercross (IC) strategy. Hence, they are more costly and technically demanding than those for dominant phenotypes. Maximizing the return from these screens requires maximizing the number of mutations that are bred to homozyosity in the G 3 generation. Using a probabilistic approach, we compare different designs of screens for recessive phenotypes and the impact each one has on the number of mutations that can be effectively screened. We address the issue of BC versus IC strategies and consider genome-wide, region-specific screens and suppressor screens. We find that optimally designed BC and IC screens allow the screening of, on average, similar numbers of mutations but that interpedigree variation is more pronounced when the IC strategy is employed. By conducting a retrospective analysis of published mutagenesis screens, we show that, depending on the strategy, a threefold difference in the numbers of mutations screened per animal used could be expected. This method allows researchers to contrast, for a range of experimental designs, the cost per mutation screened and to maximize the number of mutations that one can expect to screen in a given experiment.