Although the etiology of the majority of human breast cancers is unknown, environmental carcinogens are suspected to play a role. In this study, we investigated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-DNA adducts in 78 breast cancer patients and benign breast disease patients with lifetime environmental exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds. Adducts were detected in paraffin sections by immunoperoxidase method using polyclonal antiserum and were quantitated by the image-analyzing system. A significantly higher level of adducts was found in benign breast disease as compared to cancer patients (P < .001; Mann-Whitney U test). Neither smoking nor genetic polymorphisms in glutathione S-transferase and cytochrome P450 influenced the level of adducts. This exploratory study demonstrates the usefulness of the immunoperoxidase method to detect PAH-DNA adducts in stored breast tissue and suggests further research on a larger population, including patients from both high- and low-pollution environments.