The German Environmental Survey (GerES) is a cross-sectional probability study to determine the exposure of the general population to environmental contaminants. The study was repeated for the third time in 1998 (GerES III). Again, a stratified random procedure was used to select the study population taking into account the parameters gender, age, community size and place of residence (West- or East-Germany). A total of 4822 persons between 18 and 69 years of age from 120 localities participated in GerES III. Human biomonitoring comprised the determination of arsenic, cadmium, mercury, metabolites of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), pentachlorophenol (PCP), other chlorophenols, precious metals (gold, platinum, iridium), nicotine, and cotinine in urine.