The alkaline comet assay and a cell-free system were used to characterise DNA lesions induced by treatment with glycidamide (GA), a metabolite of the food contaminant acrylamide. DNA lesions induced by GA were sensitively detected when the formamidopyrimidine-DNA-glycosylase (Fpg) enzyme was included in the comet assay. We used LC-MS to characterise modified bases from GA-treated naked DNA with and without subsequent Fpg treatment. N7-GA-Guanine and N3-GA-Adenine aglycons were detected in the supernatant showing some depurination of adducted bases; treatment of naked DNA with Fpg revealed no further increase in the adduct yield nor occurrence of other adducted nucleobases. We treated human lymphocytes with GA and found large differences in DNA lesion levels detected with Fpg, depending on the duration and the pH of the lysis step. These lysis-dependent variations in GA-induced Fpg sensitive sites paralleled those observed after treatment of cells with methyl methane sulfonate (MMS). On the other hand, oxidative lesions (8-oxoGuanine) induced by a photoactive compound (Ro 12-9786) plus light, and also DNA strand breaks induced by X-rays, were detected largely independently of the lysis conditions. The results suggest that the GA-induced lesions are predominantly N7-GA-dG adducts slowly undergoing imidazole ring opening at pH 10 as in the standard lysis procedure; such structures are substrate for Fpg leading to strand breaks. The data suggest that the characteristic alkaline lysis dependence of some DNA lesions may be used to study specific types of DNA modifications. The comet assay is increasingly used in regulatory testing of chemicals; in this context, lysis-dependent variations represent a novel approach to obtain insight in the molecular nature of a genotoxic insult.