Abstract We have investigated whether short-term nose-only inhalation exposure to electric spark discharge-generated carbon nanoparticles ( approximately 60 nm) causes oxidative stress and DNA damage responses in the lungs of rats (152 mug/m(3); 4 h) and mice (142 mug/m(3); 4 h, or three times 4 h). In both species, no pulmonary inflammation and toxicity were detected by bronchoalveolar lavage or mRNA expression analyses. Oxidative DNA damage (measured by fpg-comet assay), was also not increased in mouse whole lung tissue or isolated lung epithelial cells from rat. In addition, the mRNA expressions of the DNA base excision repair genes OGG1, DNA Polbeta and XRCC1 were not altered. However, in the lung epithelial cells isolated from the nanoparticle-exposed rats a small but significant increase in APE-1 mRNA expression was measured. Thus, short-term inhalation of carbon nanoparticles under the applied exposure regimen, does not cause oxidative stress and DNA damage in the lungs of healthy mice and rats.