Exposure to cigarette smoke has long been linked to carcinogenesis, but the emphasis has been placed on mutational changes in the DNA sequence caused by the carcinogens in smoke. Here, we report an additional role for cigarette smoke exposure in contributing to chromosomal aberrations in cells. We have found that cigarette smoke condensate (CSC) induces anaphase bridges in cultured human cells, which in a short time lead to genomic imbalances. The frequency of the induced bridges within the entire population decreases with time, and this decrease is not dependent upon the p53-mediated apoptotic pathway. Additionally, we show that CSC induces DNA double stranded breaks (DSBs) in cultured cells and purified DNA. The reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger, 2' deoxyguanosine 5'-monophosphate (dGMP) prevents CSC-induced DSBs, anaphase bridge formation and genomic imbalances. Therefore, we propose that CSC induces bridges and genomic imbalances via DNA DSBs. Furthermore, since the amount of CSC added to the cultures was substantially less than that extracted from a single cigarette, our results show that even low levels of cigarette smoke can cause irreversible changes in the chromosomal constitution of cultured cells.