Cellular DNA is subjected to continual attack, both by reactive species inside cells and by environmental agents. Toxic and mutagenic consequences are minimized by distinct pathways of repair, and 130 known human DNA repair genes are described here. Notable features presently include four enzymes that can remove uracil from DNA, seven recombination genes related to RAD51, and many recently discovered DNA polymerases that bypass damage, but only one system to remove the main DNA lesions induced by ultraviolet light. More human DNA repair genes will be found by comparison with model organisms and as common folds in three-dimensional protein structures are determined. Modulation of DNA repair should lead to clinical applications including improvement of radiotherapy and treatment with anticancer drugs and an advanced understanding of the cellular aging process.