Two analytical methods, one involving the combined use of reverse-phase HPLC and electrochemical detection (HPLC-EC) and one involving a mass spectrometric detection after gas chromatography separation (GC/MS), were developed for the detection of 8-oxoguanine in DNA. In order to obtain quantitative results, 2,6-diamino-8-oxopurine, whose chemical structure and electrochemical response are very similar to 8-oxoguanine, has been employed as an internal standard in the HPLC-EC assay. In the case of the GC/MS method, an isotopically stable (M + 4) 8-oxoguanine has been employed as an internal standard. Both methods are able to detect approximately 1 modification per 106 DNA bases. The background level of 8-oxoguanine in DNA as determined by GC/MS is approximately 50-fold higher than that determined by the HPLC-EC assay. The discrepancy between the two methods is due to an artifactual oxidation of guanine during the derivatization reaction as demonstrated by using pure guanine. The amount of 8-oxoguanine in guanine, determined by GC/MS, increases linearly with the time of derivatization, indicating that an oxidation occurs during the silylation reaction. Derivatization under nitrogen atmosphere reduces but does not suppress the artifactual oxidation. The amount of 8-oxoguanine in DNA, quantified by GC/MS, is comparable to that obtained by HPLC-EC when 8-oxoguanine is prepurified by HPLC or by immunoaffinity chromatography, prior to the silylation reaction. The artifactual formation of 8-oxoguanine during the derivatization reaction may explain, at least in part, why the values reported for 8-oxoguanine determination by GC/MS are generally about 1 order of magnitude higher than that determined by HPLC-EC. Prepurification of 8-oxoguanine from guanine is recommended in order to obtain reliable results by GC/MS which may be compared to HPLC-EC.