A wide variety of base damages and single-strand breaks formed by reactive oxygen species during metabolic activation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been recognized to be involved in PAH carcinogenesis. In this study, alkaline comet assay was used to detect the DNA damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes among 143 coke-oven workers and 50 non-coke-oven workers, and the effects of genetic polymorphisms of XRCC1 and ERCC2 genes on DNA damage were evaluated. The olive tail moment was significantly higher in coke-oven workers than in non-coke-oven workers (2.6, 95% CI=2.1–3.3 versus 1.0, 95% CI=0.8–1.2, p<0.01), and significant correlation between ln-transformed urinary 1-OHP and ln-transformed olive tail moment was found in total population (n=193, Pearson's r=0.393, p<0.001) and in coke-oven workers (n=143, Pearson's r=0.224, p=0.007). The olive tail moment was significantly higher in coke-oven workers with GA genotype of G27466A polymorphism of XRCC1 than those with GG genotype (4.6, 95% CI=2.5–8.7 versus 2.4, 95% CI=1.9–2.9, p<0.01 with adjustment for covariates). No significant associations between C26304T, G28152A and G36189A polymorphisms of XRCC1 and G23591A and A35931C polymorphisms of ERCC2 and olive tail moment were found in both groups. The study showed that the alkaline comet assay is a suitable biomarker in the detection of DNA damage among coke-oven workers and it suggested that the A allele of G27466A polymorphism of XRCC1 may be associated with decreased DNA repair capacity toward PAH-induced base damage and strand breaks.