Purinethiols are a class of potential cancer chemopreventive agents that exhibit nucleophilic scavenging activity against the carcinogenic electrophile benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide (BPDE). Of the purinethiols tested previously, 2,6-dithiopurine (DTP), exhibited the highest scavenging activity for BPDE when tested either in vitro or in vivo. Sulfur-based nucleophiles are typically classified as "soft" nucleophiles, showing selectivity in nucleophilic substitution reactions for "soft", easily polarizable electrophiles. It was of interest to determine whether electrophilic toxicants other than BPDE react facilely with DTP, and whether 2,6-dithiouric acid (DUA), the major in vivo metabolite of DTP, also has scavenging activity. Four diverse toxicants tested in the present work, acrolein, melphalan, dimethyl sulfate, and cisplatin, all react facilely with DTP in vitro near neutral pH. These toxicants are expected to react as "soft" electrophiles. Furthermore, each of these compounds, as well as BPDE, reacts with DUA with rate constants comparable to the analogous rate constants for reaction with DTP. In contrast, several toxicants classified as "hard" electrophiles (ethyl methanesulfonate, methylnitrosourea, ethylnitrosourea, 1-methyl-3-nitro-1-nitrosoguanidine) show no appreciable reaction with DTP. These results suggest that both DTP and its major metabolite act as "soft" nucleophiles in nucleophilic substitution reactions and may be effective in scavenging a wide range of toxicants that react as "soft" electrophiles.