In this study we examined the effects of green tea and its major components, (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and caffeine, on the tobacco-specific nitrosamine 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK)-induced lung tumorigenesis in A/J mice. We also studied the effects of green tea and EGCG on O6-methylguanine and 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OH-dGuo) formation in lung tissues caused by NNK treatment. Mice were given 2% tea, 560 ppm EGCG, or 1120 ppm caffeine in drinking water for 13 weeks. During this time, NNK (11.65 mg/kg body weight) was administered by gavage three times weekly for 10 weeks from weeks 3 to 12. The bioassay was terminated 6 weeks after the last NNK treatment. Mice treated with NNK developed 22.5 lung adenomas per mouse, whereas NNK-treated mice that drank green tea or EGCG as drinking water developed only 12.2 (P less than 0.01) and 16.1 (P less than 0.05) tumors per mouse, respectively. Mice that drank green tea or caffeine solution showed lower body weight gains, although little difference in water and diet consumption was noted in these groups. While green tea and EGCG exerted little effect on the formation of O6-methylguanine, a critical DNA lesion in NNK lung tumorigenesis, both treatments suppressed the increase of 8-OH-dGuo levels in mouse lung DNA. The inhibition of 8-OH-dGuo formation in lung DNA by green tea and EGCG is consistent with their ability to inhibit lung tumorigenesis by NNK. Because 8-OH-dGuo is a DNA lesion caused by oxidative damage, these results suggest that the mechanism of inhibition by green tea and EGCG in NNK-induced lung tumorigenesis is due at least partly to their antioxidant properties.