Reactive species generated by chemicals and UV radiation can cause sequence-specific DNA damage and play important roles in mutagenesis, carcinogenesis and aging. We have investigated sequence specificity of oxidative stress-mediated DNA damage by using 32P-labeled DNA fragments obtained from the human c-Ha-ras-1 and p53 genes. Free hydroxyl radical causes DNA damage with no marked site specificity. Reactive nitrogen species, sulfate radicals, nitrogen-centered radicals, benzoyloxyl radical and alkoxyl radical show different sequence specificity. Benzoyloxyl radical specifically causes damage to the 5'-G in GG sequence. UVA radiation also causes DNA damage at this site through electron transfer in the presence of certain photosensitizers. The 5'-G in GG sequence is easily oxidized because a large part of the highest occupied molecular orbital is distributed on this site. On the basis of these findings, the sequence specificity of DNA damage is presumably determined by (a) redox potential of reactive species; (b) ionization potential of DNA bases; and (c) site-specific binding of metal ion to DNA. Here we discuss the mechanisms of sequence-specific DNA damage in relation to carcinogenesis and aging.