Novel homodinuclear Cu(II) (K1), heterodinuclear Cu(II)-Mn(II) (K2) and homotrinuclear Cu(II) (K3) complexes with a novel oxime-type ligand have been prepared and their nucleolytic activities on pCYTEXP were established by neutral agarose gel electrophoresis. The analyses of the cleavage products obtained electrophoretically indicate that although the examined complexes induces very similar conformational changes on supercoiled DNA by converting supercoiled form to nicked form than linear form in a sequential manner as the complex concentration or reaction period is increased, K3 is less effective than the two others. The oxime complexes were nucleolytically active at physiological pH values but the activities of K1 or K2 were diminished by increasing the pH of the reaction mixture. In contrast, K3 makes dominantly single strand nicking by producing nicked circles on DNA at almost all the applied pH values. Metal complex induced DNA cleavage was also tested for inhibition by various radical scavengers as superoxide dismutase (SOD), azide, thiourea and potassium iodide. The antioxidants inhibited the nucleolytic acitivities of the oxime complexes but SOD afforded no protection indicating that the nucleolytic mechanism involves of copper and/or manganese complex-mediated reactive oxygen species such as hydroxyl radicals being responsible for the oxidative DNA cleavage.