The repair protein O6-alkylguanine-DNA alkyltransferase (AGT) protects cells from the mutagenic and carcinogenic effects of alkylating agents by removing O6-alkylguanine adducts from DNA. Recently, we established that AGT protects against the mutagenic effects of pyridyloxobutylation resulting from the metabolic activation of the tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA) 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1- butanone and N-nitrosonornicotine by repairing O6-[4-oxo-4-(3- pyridyl)butyl]guanine (O6-pobG). There have been several epidemiologic studies examining the association between the I143V/K178R AGT genotype and lung cancer risk. Two studies have found positive associations, suggesting that AGT proteins differ in their repair of DNA damage caused by TSNA. However, it is not known how this genotype alters the biochemical activity of AGT. We proposed that AGT proteins may differ in their ability to remove large O6-alkylguanine adducts, such as O6-pobG, from DNA. Therefore, we examined the repair of O6-pobG by wild-type (WT) human, I143V/K178R, and L84F AGT proteins when contained in multiple sequence contexts, including the twelfth codon of H-ras, a mutational hotspot within this oncogene. The AGT-mediated repair of O6-pobG was more profoundly influenced by sequence context than that of O6-methylguanine. These differences are not the result of secondary structure (hairpin) formation in DNA. In addition, the I143V/K178R variant seems less sensitive to the effects of sequence context than the WT or L84F proteins. These studies indicate that the sequence dependence of O6-pobG repair by human AGT (hAGT) varies with subtle changes in protein structure. These data establish a novel functional difference between the I143V/K178R protein and other hAGTs in the repair of a toxicologically relevant substrate, O6-pobG.