The measurement of the pyrene metabolite, 1-hydroxypyrene, in human urine has been used to assess recent exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). The objective of this study was to see whether genetic polymorphisms in metabolic enzymes could explain some of the variation in urinary 1-hydroxypyrene glucuronide (1-OHPG) excretion in relation to smoking. Forty-seven male hospital workers, who were not occupationally exposed to PAH, participated in this study. The urine samples were analyzed for 1-OHPG utilizing immunoaffinity chromatography and synchronous fluorescence spectroscopy. The analysis of GSTM1 and GSTT1 polymorphism was performed by PCR. The 1-OHPG concentration in the urine of the hospital workers was 0.57 +/- 0.85 micromol/mol creatinine, and ranged from 0.02 to 5.04 mciromol/mol creatinine. Cigarette smoking was significantly correlated with urinary 1-OHPG (r = 0.3976, P = 0.0056). The 1-OHPG excretion in GSTM1-deficient smokers was higher than that in GSTM1-positive smokers. On the other hand, 1-OHPG excretion was higher in GSTT1-positive smokers than in GSTT1-deficient smokers. It is important to note the variability of individual PAH metabolite excretion due to different GSTM1 and GSTT1 genotypes.