The DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) repair pathway has been implicated in maintaining genomic integrity via suppression of chromosomal rearrangements. DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) has an important role with DNA DSBs repair. In this study, 93 of untreated cancer patients and 41 of cancer-free healthy volunteers were enrolled. Peripheral blood was collected, separated and centrifuged; DNA-PK activity was measured by DNA-pull-down assay. The expressions of DNA-PKcs, Ku70 and Ku86 were examined by RT-PCR assay and western blotting. Chromosomal aberrations were examined by cytogenetic methods. DNA-PK activities of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) in patients with uterine cervix or breast cancer were significantly lower than those in normal volunteers. Age and smoking had no association with DNA-PK activity, whereas DNA-PK activity and the expression of Ku70, Ku86 and DNA-PKcs in RT-PCR were interrelated. A similar tendency was seen in western blot assay but less clear than in RT-PCR. Therefore, the association between DNA-PK activity and expression of DNA-PK in protein level could not be concluded. The frequency of chromosome aberration, such as dicentric chromosomes and excess fragment increased as the DNA-PK activity decreased. In conclusion, DNA-PK activity is associated with chromosomal instability. DNA-PK activity in PBL is associated with risk of breast and uterine cervix cancer. DNA-PK activity in PBL can be used to select individuals for whom an examination should be performed because of their increased susceptibility to breast and uterine cervix cancer.