Abstract Acrylamide is used in the industry and can be a by-product in a high-temperature food processing. It is reported to interact with DNA, but the mechanism of this interaction is not fully understood. In the present study, we investigated the DNA-damaging potential of acrylamide (ACM) in normal human lymphocytes using the alkaline-, neutral- and 12.1 versions of the comet assay and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. We also investigated effect of acrylamide on caspase-3 activity as well as its influence on the repair process of hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA damage. Acrylamide at 0.5–50 μM induced mainly alkali-labile sites. This damage was repaired during a 60-min repair incubation. Post-treatment of the damaged DNA with repair enzymes: thymine glycol DNA N-glycosylase (Nth) and formamidopyrimidine–DNA glycosylase (Fpg), recognizing oxidized DNA bases, as well as 3-methyladenine–DNA glycosylase II (Alk A), recognizing alkylated bases, caused an increase in the extent of DNA damage, indicating the induction of oxidative and alkylative DNA base modifications by acrylamide. Pre-treatment of the lymphocytes with N- tert-butyl-α-phenylnitrone (PBN), a spin trap, as well as vitamins C and E decreased the DNA-damaging effect of acrylamide, which suggest that free radicals/reactive oxygen species may be involved in this effect. Acrylamide impaired the repair of DNA damaged by hydrogen peroxide and increased the activity of caspase-3, which may indicate its potential to induce apoptosis. Our results suggest that acrylamide may exert a wide spectrum of diverse effects on DNA of normal cells, including mostly DNA base modifications and apoptosis. Acrylamide may also impair DNA repair. Free radicals may underline these effects and some dietary antioxidants can be considered as protective agents against genotoxic action of acrylamide. As normal lymphocytes contain cyp2e1 and P450, engaged in the bioactivation of ACM to glicidamide it is uncertain whether acrylamide causes all of measured effect per se or this is the result of the action of its metabolites.