The activity of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) is activated upon recognition of DNA strand breaks by its DNA-binding domain and the stimulation of this nuclear enzyme seems to be an early response of cells exposed to a variety of different DNA-damaging agents. In the present work we evaluate the effect of hydrogen peroxide and gamma-radiation on DNA strand breaks in human leukocytes in the presence and in the absence of 3-aminobenzamide (3AB), a potent inhibitor of PARP. Our results have shown differences in the role poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation in the rejoining of DNA strand breaks induced by hydrogen peroxide and gamma-radiation. We observed a PARP-dependent recovery of DNA strand breaks at the incubation time of 20-30 min in leukocytes treated with hydrogen peroxide. The repair of DNA strand breaks induced by gamma-radiation seems to be dependent on oxygen radical scavenging and the stimulation of PARP could be related to the protection of DNA strand breaks from hydroxyl radicals.