Dietary fat has previously been shown to have somewhat complicated relationships to levels of oxidative stress in rats. In this study, we examined the effects of five different dietary fat intakes on levels of oxidative DNA damage in rats. Animals fed diets containing 3%, 5%, 10%, or 15% corn oil had body weights that were similar after 20 weeks. Animals fed a 20% fat diet, however, had significantly higher mean body weight than any other group. Levels of 5-hydroxymethyl-2'-deoxyuridine, one marker of oxidative DNA damage, had different relationships to dietary fat in blood and mammary gland. In blood, levels increased with dietary fat levels, and the highest levels were observed with the 20% fat diet (65% higher levels than with the 3% fat diet). In mammary gland, a plateau-type effect was observed, with maximal levels of oxidative DNA damage being obtained using 10% fat (representing a 68% increase relative to the 3% fat diet). This could be a result of induction of compensatory mechanisms in response to a high-fat diet in mammary gland but not in the short-lived nucleated blood cells. Oxidative DNA damage levels in blood thus appear to be a marker of dietary fat intake. In mammary gland, however, levels of DNA damage are consistent with previously observed promotional effects of dietary fat on mammary gland tumorigenesis at lower levels of fat intake with little or no incremental promoting effects at higher levels of fat intake.