The ability of the methyl-directed mismatch repair system to recognize and repair the exocyclic adducts propanodeoxyguanosine (PdG) and pyrimido[1,2-alpha]purin-10(3H)-one (M(1)G), the major adduct derived from the endogenous mutagen malondialdehyde, has been assessed both in vivo and in vitro. Both adducts were site-specifically incorporated into M13MB102 DNA, and the adducted genomes were electroporated into wild-type or mutS-deficient Escherichia coli strains. A decrease in mutations caused by both adducts was observed in mutS-deficient strains, suggesting that MutS was binding to the adducts and blocking repair by nucleotide excision repair. This hypothesis was supported by the differences in mutation frequency observed when hemimethylated genomes containing PdG on the (-)-strand were electroporated into a uvrA(-) strain. The ability of purified MutS to bind to PdG- or M(1)G-containing 31-mer duplexes in vitro was assessed using both surface plasmon resonance and gel shift assays. MutS bound to M(1)G:T-containing duplexes with similar affinity to a G:T mismatch but less strongly to M(1)G:C- and PdG-containing duplexes. Dissociation from each of the adduct-containing duplexes occurred at a faster rate than from a G:T mismatch. The present results indicate that MutS can bind to exocyclic adducts resulting from endogenous DNA damage and trigger their removal by mismatch repair or protect them from removal by nucleotide excision repair.