The genomic integrity of all living organisms is constantly jeopardized by physical [e.g. ultraviolet (UV) light, ionizing radiation] and chemical (e.g. environmental pollutants, endogenously produced reactive metabolites) agents that damage the DNA. To overcome the deleterious effects of DNA lesions, nature evolved a number of complex multi-protein repair processes with broad, partially overlapping substrate specificity. In marked contrast, cells may use very simple repair systems, referred to as direct DNA damage reversal, that rely on a single protein, remove lesions in a basically error-free manner, show high substrate specificity, and do not involve incision of the sugar-phosphate backbone or base excision. This concise review deals with two types of direct DNA damage reversal: (i) the repair of alkylating damage by alkyltransferases and dioxygenases, and (ii) the repair of UV-induced damage by spore photoproduct lyases and photolyases. (Part of a Multi-author Review).