Several studies among adult populations showed that an array of outdoor and indoor sources of particles emissions contributed to personal exposures to atmospheric particles, with tobacco smoke playing a prominent role (J. Expo. Anal. Environ. Epidemiol. 6 (1996) 57, Environ. Int. 24 (1998) 405, Arch. Environ. Health 54 (1999) 95). The Vesta study was carried out to assess the role of exposure to traffic emissions in the development of childhood asthma. In this paper, we present data on 68 children aged 8-14 years, living in the metropolitan areas of Paris (n = 30), Grenoble (n = 15) and Toulouse (n = 23), France, who continuously carried, over 48 h, a rucksack that contained an active PM2.5 sampler. Data about home indoor sources were collected by questionnaires. In parallel, daily concentrations of PM10 in ambient air were monitored by local air quality networks. The contribution of indoor and outdoor factors to personal exposures was assessed using multiple linear regression models. Average personal exposure across all children was 23.7 microg/m3 (S.D. = 19.0 microg/m3), with local means ranging from 18.2 to 29.4 microg/m3. The final model explains 36% of the total between-subjects variance, with environmental tobacco smoke contributing for more than a third to this variability; presence of pets at home, proximity of the home to urban traffic emissions, and concomitant PM10 ambient air concentrations were the other main determinants of personal exposure.