The excision of mutagenic DNA adducts by the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway is essential for genome stability, which is key to avoiding genetic diseases, premature aging, cancer and neurologic disorders. Due to the need to process an extraordinarily high damage density embedded in the nucleosome landscape of chromatin, NER activity provides a unique functional caliper to understand how histone modifiers modulate DNA damage responses. At least three distinct lysine methyltransferases (KMTs) targeting histones have been shown to facilitate the detection of ultraviolet (UV) light-induced DNA lesions in the difficult to access DNA wrapped around histones in nucleosomes. By methylating core histones, these KMTs generate docking sites for DNA damage recognition factors before the chromatin structure is ultimately relaxed and the offending lesions are effectively excised. In view of their function in priming nucleosomes for DNA repair, mutations of genes coding for these KMTs are expected to cause the accumulation of DNA damage promoting cancer and other chronic diseases. Research on the question of how KMTs modulate DNA repair might pave the way to the development of pharmacologic agents for novel therapeutic strategies.