Accessibility of DNA is a prerequisite for both DNA damage and repair. Therefore, the chromatin structure is expected to have major impact on both processes, with opposite consequences for the stability of the genome. To analyse the influence of chromatin compaction on the generation and repair of various types of DNA modifications, we modulated the global chromatin structure of AS52 Chinese hamster ovary cells and HeLa cells by treatment with either histone deacetylase inhibitors or resveratrol and measured the repair kinetics of (i) pyrimidine dimers induced by ultraviolet B, (ii) oxidised purines generated by photosensitisation and (iii) single-strand breaks induced by H2O2, using an alkaline elution technique. The decrease of chromatin compaction (detected as reduced DNA accessibility to DNase I) after treatment with trichostatin A or butyrate slightly increased the damage generation but had no significant effect on the global repair rates. In contrast, incubation of AS52 cells with resveratrol at concentrations that caused significant chromatin compaction and that had only moderate influence on cell proliferation gave rise to a strong decrease of the repair rates of all three types of DNA modifications. Similar, but less pronounced effects were observed in HeLa cells. The effects of resveratrol on the repair rates were not antagonised by the sirtuin inhibitor EX-527 or by an increase of the intracellular thiol levels.