This study was aimed at evaluating whether controlled short-term exposure to ozone (O(3)) induces changes in biomarkers of lung inflammation and oxidative stress in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) and blood of healthy subjects. Twenty-two volunteers were exposed to 0.1 ppm of O(3) for 2 h while performing moderate intermittent exercise. EBC and blood were collected before, immediately after and 18 h after exposure. Changes in biomarkers were measured both in EBC and blood, without significant alterations of lung function tests. Changes in EBC, but not in blood, were mainly accounted for by a subgroup of 'susceptible' individuals bearing the wild genotype for NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1) and the null genotype for glutathione-S-transferase M1 (GSTM1). Thus, a single 2-h exposure to 0.1 ppm of O(3) induces changes in biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress. Polymorphic NQO1 and GSTM1 act as modifier of the lung response to O(3).