An analysis of the tissue DNA adducts in rats by the sensitive (32)p-postlabeling assay showed one to eight detectable DNA adducts in lung, trachea, larynx, heart and bladder of the sham controls. Chronic exposure of animals to mainstream cigarette smoke showed a remarkable enhancement of most adducts in the lung and heart DNA. Since cigarette smoke contains several thousand chemicals and a few dozen of them are known or potential carcinogens, the difference between the DNA adducts of nasal and the other tissues may reflect the diversity of reactive constituents and their differential absorption in different tissues. In comparison to the lung DNA adducts, the adducts in nasal DNA were less hydrophobic. Identity of the predominant adducts was further investigated by comparison with several reference DNA adducts from 10 PAH and aromatic amines. Since some of these chemicals are present in cigarette smoke, the results suggest that these constituents of cigarette smoke may not be directly responsible for formation of DNA adducts in the lung and heart of the smoke-exposed animals.