The tobacco-specific lung carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) is metabolically converted to 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL) in a reaction which is both stereoselective and reversible. NNAL is also a lung carcinogen, with both (R)- NNAL and (S)-NNAL inducing a high incidence of lung tumours in rats. Both NNAL and NNK undergo metabolic activation to intermediates which react with DNA to form pyridylhydroxybutyl and pyridyloxobutyl DNA adducts, respectively. DNA adduct formation by NNAL and NNK is an important step in their mechanisms of carcinogenesis. In this study, we quantified both pyridylhydroxybutyl and pyridyloxobutyl DNA phosphate adducts in the lung of rats treated with 5 ppm of (R)-NNAL or (S)-NNAL in drinking water for 10, 30, 50 and 70 weeks. In (R)-NNAL-treated rats, the pyridylhydroxybutyl and pyridyloxobutyl phosphate adducts were 4530-6920 fmol/mg DNA and 46-175 fmol/mg DNA, accounting for 45-51% and 0.3-1% of the total measured DNA phosphate and base adducts, respectively. In (S)-NNAL-treated rats, the two types of phosphate adducts were 3480-4180 fmol/mg DNA and 1180-4650 fmol/mg DNA, accounting for 30-36% and 11-38% of the total adducts, respectively. Distinct patterns of adduct formation were observed, with higher levels of NNAL-derived pyridylhydroxybutyl phosphate adducts and lower levels of NNK-derived pyridyloxobutyl phosphate adducts in the (R)-NNAL treatment group than the (S)- NNAL group. The persistence and increase over time of certain pyridylhydroxybutyl phosphate adducts over the course of the study suggest that these adducts could be useful biomarkers of chronic exposure to NNAL and NNK. The results of this study provide important new information regarding DNA damage by NNAL and NNK, and contribute to understanding mechanisms of tobacco-related carcinogenesis.