Mechanical systems are used in buildings to provide conditioned air, dissipate thermal loads, dilute contaminants, and maintain pressure differences. The characteristics of these systems and their operations h implications for the exposures of workers to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and for the control of these exposures. This review describes the general features of building ventilation systems and the efficacy of ventilation for controlling contaminant concentrations. Ventilation can reduce the concentration of ETS through dilution, but central heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) can also move air throughout a building that has been contaminated by ETS. An understanding of HVAC systems is needed to develop models for exposures of workers to ETS.