The DNA adduct O4-ethylthymine can be alkylated under mild conditions with pentafluorobenzyl bromide. The product has good gas chromatographic characteristics and also forms a structurally characteristic anion in high yield when subjected to electron capture mass spectrometry. Related adducts for other DNA bases behave similarly. These properties stimulated us to develop a general analytical method based on the derivatization reaction. Important for this method is an oxidation-elimination reaction that mildly releases a base from a nucleoside. Thus, a general analytical method based on pentafluorobenzylation is now available for determining many alkyl and related DNA adducts.