Cigarette smoke has been reported to contain free radicals and free radical generators in both the gas and particulate phases. Studies in our laboratory have shown that both cigarette smoke condensate (CSC) and smoke bubbled through phosphate buffered saline solution (smoke-PBS) increased sister chromatid exchanges (SCE) in Chinese hamster ovary cells in a dose-dependent manner. Since oxygen free radicals have been shown to cause SCEs and other chromosomal damage, we investigated the role of these radicals in the induction of SCEs by CSC and smoke-PBS. Addition of the antioxidant enzymes catalase and superoxide dismutase or the oxygen-radical scavenger ascorbic acid failed to reduce the SCE frequency in the presence of either CSC or smoke-PBS. Additional studies indicated that the quantity of hydrogen peroxide produced in CSC or smoke-PBS is too small to account for the observed SCE induction. It appears, therefore, that SCE induction by CSC or smoke-PBS does not involve the participation of oxygen free radicals.