In nucleotide excision repair DNA damage is removed through incision of the damaged strand on both sides of the lesion, followed by repair synthesis, which fills the gap using the intact strand as a template, and finally ligation. In prokaryotes the damaged base is removed in a 12-13 nucleotide (nt)-long oligomer; in eukaryotes including humans the damage is excised in a 24-32 nt-long fragment. Excision in Escherichia coli is accomplished by three proteins designated UvrA, UvrB, and UvrC. In humans, by contrast, 16 polypeptides including seven xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) proteins, the trimeric replication protein A [RPA, human single-stranded DNA binding protein (HSSB)], and the multisubunit (7-10) general transcription factor TFIIH are required for the dual incisions. Transcribed strands are specifically targeted for excision repair by a transcription-repair coupling factor both in E. coli and in humans. In humans, excision repair is an important defense mechanism against the two major carcinogens, sunlight and cigarette smoke. Individuals defective in excision repair exhibit a high incidence of cancer while individuals with a defect in coupling transcription to repair suffer from neurological and skeletal abnormalities.