The carcinogenic and mutagenic effects of the aromatic amines are believed to depend on their covalent modification of DNA, primarily through the formation of adducts at C8 of guanine. The actual biologic and biochemical responses to these adducts can be envisioned as the consequence of the abilities of the cell to repair the lesions, with or without fidelity, and the introduction of errors through bypass of the adducts by polymerases. A key question is whether changes in DNA sequence arise through the participation of common repair processes that cause mutations independent of adduct structure. Alternatively, do mutations arise through miscoding during polymerase bypass at the site of the adducts and are, therefore, more likely to produce sequence changes that are more characteristic of adduct structure? This question has been approached using single, site-specific, or randomly introduced aromatic amine DNA adducts in bacterial cells, and in vitro studies with DNA polymerases that employ site-specifically modified templates. The results of both approaches demonstrate that these adducts are distinguished readily by virtue of their structures, thus supporting the conclusion that mutagenic effects of the aromatic amines arise from their structures rather than from their triggering a common inaccurate repair response.