The damage induced in supercoiled plasmid DNA molecules by 1-6 keV carbon ions has been investigated as a function of ion exposure, energy and charge state. The production of short linear fragments through multiple double strand breaks has been demonstrated and exponential exposure responses for each of the topoisomers have been found. The cross section for the loss of supercoiling was calculated to be (2.2 ± 0.5) × 10 -14 cm 2 for 2 keV C + ions. For singly charged carbon ions, increased damage was observed with increasing ion energy. In the case of 2 keV doubly charged ions, the damage was greater than for singly charged ions of the same energy. These observations demonstrate that ion induced damage is a function of both the kinetic and potential energies of the ion.