Chemopreventive effects of green tea and coffee among cigarette smokers were examined in 52 clinically healthy male subjects between 20 and 52 years of age. Blood specimens were obtained from nonsmokers (group I), smokers (group II), smokers consuming green tea (group III), and smokers drinking coffee (group IV). The mean number of cigarette smoking years (> 10 cigarettes/day) in groups II-IV ranged from 13.4 to 14.7 years. Daily intake of green tea and coffee was 2-3 cups/day for 6 months (groups III and IV). The frequencies of sisterchromatid exchange (SCE) in mitogen-stimulated peripheral lymphocytes from each experimental group were determined and analyzed statistically. SCE rates were elevated significantly in smokers (9.46 +/- 0.46) versus nonsmokers (7.03 +/- 0.33); however, the frequency of SCE in smokers who consumed green tea (7.94 +/- 0.31) was comparable to that of nonsmokers, implying that green tea can block the cigarette-induced increase in SCE frequency. Coffee, in contrast, did not exhibit a significant inhibitory effect on smoking-induced SCE.