1. The determination of personal exposures to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and respirable suspended particles (RSP) for housewives, and fixed site monitoring of their homes, have been undertaken by these authors throughout Europe, South East Asia and Australia. Median 24 h time weighted average (TWA) concentrations for ETS particles and nicotine were found to be significantly higher for housewives living in smoking households compared with those living in nonsmoking households. For Europe, median TWA concentrations of 4.1 and <0.26 microg/ml for ETS particles and 0.63 and < 0.08 microg/m3 for nicotine were found for housewives living in smoking and nonsmoking households respectively. 2. In addition to the measurement of RSP, ETS particles and nicotine, saliva cotinine concentrations were determined using a radioimmunoassay method with a limit of quantitation of 1 ng/ml. Median saliva cotinine concentrations of 1.4 and <1 ng/ml were determined for European housewives living in smoking and nonsmoking households respectively, which reflected the poor limit of quantitation of this methodology. A chromatographic method utilising tandem mass-spectrometric detection was developed and validated for the determination of both cotinine and 3-hydroxycotinine, two of the main metabolites of nicotine, with lower limits of quantitation of 0.05 and 0.10 ng/ml respectively. This method was applied to samples collected from subjects with a known ETS exposure history and median cotinine concentrations of <0.05 ng/ml for self-reported unexposed nonsmokers, 0.65 ng/ml for nonsmokers reporting some ETS exposure and 1.28 ng/ml for nonsmokers living with smokers were found. 3. In conclusion, the measurement of RSP and ETS concentrations derived from personal or fixed site monitors for housewives may provide some indication of potential exposures to dependent children. The recent development and application of a highly sensitive assay for the determination of cotinine in saliva has provided evidence to suggest that concentrations determined at sub-nanogram levels may be used as a biomarker for ETS exposure. This improved methodology, coupled with non-invasive sampling for saliva, may be of significance when considering the application of cotinine as a biomarker for ETS exposure in children.