Active oxygen species (AOS) such as O2- and H2O2 have been shown to be generated from both gas and tar phases of cigarette smoke and it has been suggested that they are involved in carcinogenesis due to cigarette smoking. Therefore, we investigated the effect of cigarette smoking on oxidative DNA damages in human peripheral blood cells using 8-hydroxydeoxy-guanosine (8-OH-dG) as a marker. From ten healthy male volunteers aged 20-22 years, 5 ml of blood was taken before and 10 minutes after smoking 2 cigarettes in 10 minutes. After lysis of blood cell membranes leukocyte DNA was isolated using a DNA extractor and 8-OH-dG levels were determined using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with electrochemical detection. The mean levels of 8-OH-dG increased significantly (P less than 0.05) from 3.3 +/- 0.8/10(6) dG (mean +/- SD) to 5.1 +/- 2.5 after smoking. These results indicate that cigarette smoking induces oxidative DNA damage in peripheral blood cells in a relatively short time.