The heterocyclic amine 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) is formed during the cooking of proteinaceous animal foods (meat, chicken, and fish). PhIP is a carcinogen in the Fischer 344 (F-344) rat; it induces mammary tumors in female rats and lymphomas and colon and prostate tumors in male rats. In F-344 rats, PhIP forms DNA adducts in various organs, including the target organs. Inhibition of PhIP-DNA adduct formation is likely to lead to inhibition of PhIP tumorigenicity. We have examined the chemopreventive properties of green tea and black tea in PhIP carcinogenesis by evaluating their effects on PhIP-DNA adduct formation in the female F-344 rat. Young adult animals were maintained on powdered AIN-76A diet while receiving regular drinking water or 2% (wt/vol) infusions of green tea or black tea for a total of six weeks. During Weeks 3, 4, and 5, all animals received PhIP by gavage (1 mg/kg/day). Three rats per group were euthanized on Days 1 and 8 after termination of PhIP exposure. DNA was isolated from a number of organs and analyzed for PhIP-DNA adducts by 32P-postlabeling assays. Compared with animals on regular drinking water, PhIP-DNA adduct formation was inhibited in small intestine, colon, liver, and mammary epithelial cells (MECs) of animals receiving green tea or black tea as the sole source of drinking fluid. Green tea inhibited adduct formation in colon, liver, and MECs (33.3-80.0%) on both days, but only on Day 8 (54.4%) in small intestine. Black tea inhibited adduct formation on both days in liver (71.4-80.0%), on Day 1 in colon (40.0%), and on Day 8 in small intestine (81.8%); it had no effect on MEC adducts. Neither green tea nor black tea had an effect on adduct levels in pancreas, lungs, white blood cells, heart, kidneys, spleen, cecum, or stomach. Similarly, these teas did not affect the rate of adduct removal (percent change from Day 1 to Day 8) in any organ. It is concluded that green tea and black tea are potential chemopreventive agents in PhIP-induced tumorigenesis in the F-344 rat.