Photoactivated methylene blue was used to damage purified DNA and the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of human fibroblasts in culture. The primary product of this reaction is the DNA lesion 7-hydro-8-oxo-deoxyguanosine (8-oxo-dG). The DNA damage was quantitated using Escherichia coli formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (Fpg) in a gene-specific damage and repair assay. Assay conditions were refined to give incision at all enzyme-sensitive sites with minimal non-specific cutting. Cultured fibroblasts were exposed to photoactivated methylene blue under conditions that would produce an average of three oxidative lesions per double-stranded mitochondrial genome. Within 9 h, 47% of this damage had been removed by the cells. This removal was due to repair rather than to replication, cell loss or degradation of damaged genomes. The rate of repair was measured in both DNA strands of the frequently transcribed ribosomal region of the mitochondrial genome and in both strands of the non-ribosomal region. Fpg-sensitive alkali-resistant oxidative base damage was efficiently removed from human mtDNA with no differences in the rate of repair between strands or between two different regions of the genome that differ substantially with regard to transcriptional activity.