Metabolic activation in humans of chemical carcinogens found in the environment results in the formation of carcinogen-DNA adducts in vivo. Some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-DNA adducts in human DNA can be hydrolyzed under mildly acidic conditions to yield tetrahydrotetrol derivatives which may then be detected by synchronous fluorescence spectroscopy. In an analysis of human placental DNA, second derivative spectroscopy alone was unable to resolve the synchronous fluorescent signature for r-7,t-8,t-9,c-10-tetrahydroxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydrobenzo[alpha]pyrene from a crude extract, because a complex array of other fluorescent materials was also present. Purification of the sample by a combination of chromatographic procedures including immunoaffinity chromatography and HPLC has now been shown to yield r-7,t-8,t-9,c-10-tetrahydroxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydrobenzo[alpha]pyrene residues from human DNA that are spectroscopically pure at the second derivative level. Immunoaffinity columns were prepared with rabbit antiserum raised against DNA that had been modified with (+/-)-r-7,t-8-dihydroxy-t-9,10-epoxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydrobenzo[alpha]pyre ne. This antiserum has now been shown to recognize DNA samples that have been modified with six different polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon diol epoxides and is probably only specific for a broad spectrum of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-DNA adducts. Adducts were eluted from the immunoaffinity columns, hydrolyzed with acid, and extracted into isoamyl alcohol, before being subjected to high-performance liquid chromatography. These experiments reveal important limitations of second derivative fluorescence spectroscopy as a tool in the analysis of complex environmental mixtures. Furthermore, they extensively define the ability of anti-benzo[alpha]pyrenediol epoxide-DNA antibodies to recognize different types of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-DNA adducts.