Dietary phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) and a mixture of dietary PEITC and benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC) inhibit lung tumorigenesis in A/J mice induced by a mixture of the tobacco smoke carcinogens benzo[alpyrene (B[a]P) and 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK). In this study, we tested the hypothesis that inhibition of tumorigenesis by these isothiocyanates was due to inhibition of DNA adduct formation. We quantified the following pulmonary DNA adducts: N2-[7,8,9-trihydroxy-7,8,9,10- tetrahydrobenzo[a]pyrene-10-yl]deoxyguanosine (BPDE-N2-dG) from B[a]P; and O6-methylguanine (O6-mG) and 4-hydroxy-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (HPB)-releasing adducts from NNK. Initial experiments demonstrated that there were no effects of B[a]P on NNK-DNA adduct formation, or vice versa, and established by way of a time course study the appropriate sacrifice intervals for the main experiment. Dietary PEITC, or dietary BITC plus PEITC, inhibited the formation of HPB-releasing DNA adducts of NNK at several of the time points examined. There were no effects of dietary isothiocyanates on levels of O6-mG or BPDE-N2-dG. These results, which are consistent with previous studies in rats and with tumor inhibition data in mice, support a role for inhibition of HPB-releasing DNA adducts of NNK as a mechanism of inhibition of tumorigenesis by dietary PEITC and BITC plus PEITC. However, the observed inhibition was modest, suggesting that other effects of isothiocyanates are also involved in chemoprevention in this model.