We measured 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) levels in human leukocytes from healthy donors to evaluate oxidative DNA damage and its correlation with smoking, physical exercise, and alcohol consumption. A significant increase in oxidative DNA damage was induced by cigarette smoke, with the mean level of 8-OHdG being significantly higher in smokers (33.1 +/- 10.6 per 10(6) 2-deoxyguanosine (dG) [mean +/- SE], n = 16) compared with nonsmokers (15.3 +/- 1.8 per 10(6) dG, n = 31) and former smokers (17.8 +/- 1.5 per 10(6) dG, n = 9). The highest values were observed after smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day (41.8 +/- 17.1 per 10(6) dG, n = 9). A large interindividual variation in 8-OHdG levels was observed in all analyzed groups. We also observed a correlation between 8-OHdG levels and age in nonsmokers and former smokers. Neither frequency of physical exercise nor alcohol drinking significantly modified 8-OHdG levels in leukocytes.