8-Oxoguanine (8-oxoG), induced by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and ionizing radiation, is arguably the most important mutagenic lesion in DNA. This oxidized base, because of its mispairing with A, induces GC-->TA transversion mutations often observed spontaneously in tumor cells. The human cDNA encoding the repair enzyme 8-oxoG-DNA glycosylase (OGG-1) has recently been cloned, however, its activity was never detected in cells. Here we show that the apparent lack of this activity could be due to the presence of an 8-oxoG-specific DNA binding protein. Moreover, we demonstrate the presence of two antigenically distinct OGG activities with an identical reaction mechanism in human cell (HeLa) extracts. The 38 kDa OGG-1, identical to the cloned enzyme, cleaves 8-oxoG when paired with cytosine, thymine and guanine but not adenine in DNA. In contrast, the newly discovered 36 kDa OGG-2 prefers 8-oxoG paired with G and A. We propose that OGG-1 and OGG-2 have distinct antimutagenic functions in vivo . OGG-1 prevents mutation by removing 8-oxoG formed in DNA in situ and paired with C, while OGG-2 removes 8-oxoG that is incorporated opposite A in DNA from ROS-induced 8-oxodGTP. We predict that OGG-2 specifically removes such 8-oxoG residues only from the nascent strand, possibly by utilizing the same mechanism as the DNA mismatch repair pathway.