The ability to accurately measure mutations is critical for basic research and identifying potential drug and chemical carcinogens. Current methods for in vivo quantification of mutagenesis are limited because they rely on transgenic rodent systems that are low-throughput, expensive, prolonged, and do not fully represent other species such as humans. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is a conceptually attractive alternative for detecting mutations in the DNA of any organism; however, the limit of resolution for standard NGS is poor. Technical error rates (∼1 × 10−3) of NGS obscure the true abundance of somatic mutations, which can exist at per-nucleotide frequencies ≤1 × 10−7. Using duplex sequencing, an extremely accurate error-corrected NGS (ecNGS) technology, we were able to detect mutations induced by three carcinogens in five tissues of two strains of mice within 31 d following exposure. We observed a strong correlation between mutation induction measured by duplex sequencing and the gold-standard transgenic rodent mutation assay. We identified exposure-specific mutation spectra of each compound through trinucleotide patterns of base substitution. We observed variation in mutation susceptibility by genomic region, as well as by DNA strand. We also identified a primordial marker of carcinogenesis in a cancer-predisposed strain of mice, as evidenced by clonal expansions of cells carrying an activated oncogene, less than a month after carcinogen exposure. These findings demonstrate that ecNGS is a powerful method for sensitively detecting and characterizing mutagenesis and the early clonal evolutionary hallmarks of carcinogenesis. Duplex sequencing can be broadly applied to basic mutational research, regulatory safety testing, and emerging clinical applications.