This study was to investigate the genotoxicity and cytotoxicity of the oil fumes formed from heating three common commercial cooking oils (soybean oil, sunflower oil, and lard) on human lung carcinoma pulmonary type II-like epithelium cell (A-549 cell). The major alkenal mutagenic compounds (trans-trans-2,4-decadienal, t-t-2,4-DDE; trans-trans-2,4-nonadienal, t-t-2,4-NDE; trans-2-decenal, t-2-DCA and trans-2-undecenal, t-2-UDA) contained in three oil fumes and their effects on the induction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) were also studied. It was found that the most potent mutagenic compound (t-t-2,4-DDE) of oil fumes was 66.4, 35.9 and 40.3 microg/g in soybean oil, sunflower oil and lard, respectively. The results indicated that the methanolic extracts of oil fumes could apparently lead to cytotoxicity and oxidative DNA damage. Glutathione (GSH) contents and the activities of antioxidant enzymes such as GSH reductase, and GSH S-transferase were adversely reduced by the methanolic extracts of oil fumes. When human A-549 cells were exposed to the methanolic extracts of oil fumes for 30 min, there was an increase in the formation of intracellular ROS, which was determined by dichlorofluorescein assay. Moreover, the methanolic extracts of oil fumes caused significant (p<0.05) oxidative damage through the 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine formation in A-549 cells at the concentrations from 50 to 200 microg/ml. These results demonstrated that the DNA damage in A-549 cells, induced by cooking oil fumes, was related to the ROS formation. It is inferred that women exposed to emitted fumes from cooking oil were at higher risk of contracting lung cancer.