Using UvrABC incision in combination with ligation-mediated PCR (LMPCR) we have previously shown that benzo(a)pyrene diol epoxide (BPDE) adduct formation along the nontranscribed strand of the human p53 gene is highly selective; the preferential binding sites coincide with the major mutation hotspots found in human lung cancers. Both sequence-dependent adduct formation and repair may contribute to these mutation hotspots in tumor tissues. To test this possibility, we have extended our previous studies by mapping the BPDE adduct distribution in the transcribed strand of the p53 gene and quantifying the rates of repair for individual damaged bases in exons 5, 7, and 8 for both DNA strands of this gene in normal human fibroblasts. We found that: (i) on both strands, BPDE adducts preferentially form at CpG sequences, and (ii) repair of BPDE adducts in the transcribed DNA strand is consistently faster than repair of adducts in the nontranscribed strand, while repair at the major damage hotspots (guanines at codons 157, 248 and 273) in the nontranscribed strand is two to four times slower than repair at other damage sites. These results strongly suggest that both preferential adduct formation and slow repair lead to hotspots for mutations at codons 157, 248 and 273, and that the strand bias of bulky adduct repair is primarily responsible for the strand bias of G to T transversion mutations observed in the p53 gene in human cancers.