The purpose of the present study is to examine if the bromide (Br) level in urine (Br-U) varies substantially among adult general populations of either sex or of different dietary habits. For this purpose, morning spot urine samples (about 50 per group) were collected from six groups of people, i.e., one group each of men and women in a city in Japan (thus two groups in Japan) and one group each of women in two urban and two rural areas in central and northeast China (four groups in China). The samples were analyzed for Br by ECD-gas chromatography after derivatization to methyl bromide. Br-U essentially followed a normal distribution. Whereas there was only a marginal difference in Br-U between men (7.7 +/- 2.5 mg/L as an arithmetic mean and arithmetic standard deviation) and women (8.1 +/- 2.9 mg/L) in Japan, and no difference between the urban (2.3 +/- 0.8 mg/L) and rural women (2.6 +/- 1.1 mg/L) in China, the difference between Japanese (8.1 +/- 2.9 mg/L) and Chinese women (2.3 +/- 0.8 mg/L for two cities and 2.6 +/- 1.1 mg/L for two villages) was substantial. A literature survey suggested variation in dietary habits, especially that in sea algae intake, is a possible factor affecting the observed difference in Br-U between the two ethnic groups. Contribution of Br in cereals after fumigation with, e.g., methyl bromide, was also thought to be possible. The implication of difference in background Br-U levels is discussed in relation to biological monitoring of exposure to Br-containing industrial chemicals, such as 1- and 2-bromopropane.