The levels of 3 DNA repair enzymes involved in alkylation and oxidative DNA damage repair in human peripheral blood leukocytes were measured in 20 smokers and 17 non-smokers. No differences in O6-alkylguanine-DNA-alkyltransferase (AGT) activity were found between the 2 groups and the AGT distribution within the population appeared to be unimodal. In contrast, the mean activities of both the methylpurine (MeP)- and the 2-6-diamino-4-hydroxy-5N formamidopyrimidine (FaPy)-DNA glycosylases were higher in the smokers, although only the difference between the MeP-DNA glycosylase means was statistically significant. The standard deviations of these 2 enzymes were also higher in the smokers. The MeP-DNA glycosylase activity showed a bimodal distribution when all subjects were considered. This may in part be due to the smoking habit; 83% of the subjects with enzyme activities higher than 500 fmoles/mg protein were current smokers, whilst 85% of the non-smokers had lower enzyme activities. However, if the smokers were considered separately, a bimodal distribution of this enzyme activity could still be observed. No strong correlation was observed between enzyme activity and age, although the slopes of the regression lines of enzyme activity on age were all negative. The relationship between enzyme activities was studied by bivariate distribution and a strong correlation was only found between the MeP-DNA glycosylase and the FaPy-glycosylase, with the highest values of both enzyme activities being observed in the smokers and the lowest in the non-smokers. Our results suggest that the activity of certain DNA repair enzymes can be modulated by environmental exposure.