Genotoxic effects related to exposure to styrene have been a matter of investigation for many years by employing markers of exposure, effect and susceptibility. The role of individual DNA-repair capacity in response to exposure to styrene may explain the controversial results so far obtained, but it is still scarcely explored. In the present study, we measured capacity to repair oxidative DNA damage in cell extracts obtained from 24 lamination workers occupationally exposed to styrene and 15 unexposed controls. The capacity to repair oxidative DNA damage was determined by use of a modified comet assay, as follows: HeLa cells, pre-treated with photosensitizer and irradiated with a halogen lamp in order to induce 7,8-dihydroxy-8-oxoguanine, were incubated with cell extracts from mononuclear leukocytes of each subject. The level of strand breaks reflects the removal of 7,8-dihydroxy-8-oxoguanine from substrate DNA by the enzymatic extract. In styrene-exposed subjects a moderate, non-significant increase in oxidative DNA repair was observed. Stratification for sex and smoking habit showed that unexposed males (P=0.010) and unexposed smokers (P=0.037) exhibited higher DNA-repair rates. The repair capacity did not correlate with parameters of styrene exposure and biomarkers of genotoxic effects (DNA strand breaks, N1-styrene-adenine DNA adducts, chromosomal aberrations and mutant frequencies at the HPRT locus). Significantly higher levels of DNA-repair capacity were observed in carriers of GSTM1-plus, compared to those with a deletion in GSTM1. The DNA-repair capacity was significantly lower in individuals with variant Gln/Gln genotype in XRCC1 Arg399Gln than in those with heterozygous Arg/Gln and wild-type Arg/Arg genotypes. Significantly lower repair capacity was also found in individuals with the wild-type Lys/Lys genotype in XPC Lys939Gln as compared with those homozygous for the Gln/Gln variant genotype.