Simple and rapid techniques are described for the detection of pyrimidine dimers in DNA. Human cells derived from embryonic lung tissue were UV-irradiated and subjected to either an osmotic shock procedure or detergent lysis, then treated with UV-endonuclease from Micrococcus luteus and the DNA partially denatured by treatment with weak alkali. Brief sonication reduced the molecular weight of the DNA, and the single- and double-stranded DNA could then be separated by hydroxylapatite chromatography. Approximately 40% of the expected number of pyrimidine dimers were detected by the enzyme treatment technique. The mean value of numbers of strand breaks per 10/sup 9/ dalton per J/m/sup 2/ was approximately 50% of the expected value. The method has advantages of speed and reproducibility and a large reduction in the quantities of materials used, particularly at the scintillation-counting stage.