To assess the complexity of DNA damage induced by carbon ions as a function of their energy and LET, 2-Gy irradiations by 100 keV u(-1)-400 MeV u(-1) carbon ions were investigated using the PARTRAC code. The total number of fragments and the yield of fragments of <30 bp were calculated. The authors found a particularly important contribution of DNA fragmentation in the range of <1 kbp for specific energies of <6 MeV u(-1). They also considered the effect of different specific energies with the same LET, i.e. before and after the Bragg peak. As a first step towards a full characterisation of secondary particle production from carbon ions interacting with tissue, a comparison between DNA-damage induction by primary carbon ions and alpha particles resulting from carbon break-up is presented, for specific energies of >1 MeV u(-1).