In a community-based cross-sectional study of 297 children aged 6 months to 6 years in an Indian city, the authors assessed the prevalence of elevated (> or = 10 microg/dL) blood lead (PbB) levels, their risk factors, and the lead contents in potential environmental sources. Mean PbB was 18.4 microg/dL +/- 16.5. The prevalence of elevated PbB was 67%. Anticipated risk factors for elevated PbB were living in houses painted with lead-based paint, odds ratio (OR) 6.42 (1.75, 23.6; p = 0.005), recent exposures to lead-based paint, OR 2.61 (1.07, 6.66; p = 0.03), and the use of the eye cosmetic ma," OR 2.63 (1.24, 5.56; p = 0.01). Unanticipated results were effect of upper caste as a risk factor, OR (adjusted) 1.85 (95% CI = 0.96, 3.57; p = 0.06), and the lack of effect of traffic, parental occupational exposure, or nutritional status. Analysis of various environmental sources such as paint, pencils, crayons, and clay revealed high lead levels. These results demonstrate the existence of a major environmental health problem in Indian children, with risk factors that differ from those in other countries.