The reaction of nitrous acid with hydrogen peroxide leads to nitric acid as the only stable product. In the course of this reaction, peroxynitrous acid (ONOOH) and, in the presence of CO(2), a peroxynitrite-CO(2) adduct (ONOOCO(2)(-)) are intermediately formed. Both intermediates decompose to yield highly oxidizing radicals, which subsequently react with excess hydrogen peroxide to yield peroxynitric acid (O(2)NOOH) as a further intermediate. During these reactions, (15)N chemically induced dynamic nuclear polarization (CIDNP) effects are observed, the analysis of the pH dependency of which allows the elucidation of mechanistic details. The formation and decay of peroxynitric acid via free radicals NO(2)(*) and HOO(*) is demonstrated by the appearance of (15)N CIDNP leading to emission (E) in the (15)N NMR signal of O(2)NOOH during its formation and to enhanced absorption (A) during its decay reaction. Additionally, the (15)N NMR signal of the nitrate ion (NO(3)(-)) appears in emission at pH approximately 4.5. These observations are explained by proposing the intermediate formation of short-lived radical anions O(2)NOOH(*)(-) probably generated by electron transfer between peroxynitric acid and peroxynitrate anion, followed by decomposition of O(2)NOOH(*)(-) into NO(3)(-) and HO(*) and NO(2)(-) and HOO(*) radicals, respectively. The feasibility of such reactions is supported by quantum-chemical calculations at the CBS-Q level of theory including PCM solvation model corrections for aqueous solution. The release of free HO(*) radicals during decomposition of O(2)NOOH is supported by (13)C and (1)H NMR product studies of the reaction of preformed peroxynitric acid with [(13)C(2)]DMSO (to yield the typical "HO(*) products" methanesulfonic acid, methanol, and nitromethane) and by ESR spectroscopic detection of the HO(*) and CH(3)(*) radical adducts to the spin trap compound POBN in the absence and presence of isotopically labeled DMSO, respectively.