There is a lack of data on environmental benzene exposure in children. In this study, we compared personal benzene exposure and inhalation uptake in a group of children to those of their parents. We also compared levels of urinary benzene metabolites, trans,trans-muconic acid (MA) and hydroquinone (HQ), for those two groups, and assessed the correlation between personal benzene exposure and urinary MA and HQ concentrations. The study was performed on 21, 2-3-year-old children and their parents recruited on a voluntary basis among non-smokers from the three largest day-care centers of the town of Rouen in France. Average benzene concentrations were measured over 5 consecutive days with diffusive samplers. The following simultaneous measurements were carried out: personal exposure of the parents, concentrations inside and outside the day care centers, and inside the volunteer's bedrooms. Morning and evening urine samples were collected during the same period. Benzene personal exposure levels were 14.4+/-7.7 microg/m(3) and 11.09+/-6.15 microg/m(3) in parents and children, respectively. Benzene inhalation uptake estimates were 2.51+/-1.23 microg/kg/day in the group of parents and 5.68+/-3.17 microg/kg/day in the group of children. Detectable levels of MA and HQ were found in 85% and 100% of the samples, respectively. Intra-individual variation of urinary MA and HQ concentrations expressed as a coefficient of variation (CV) ranged from 63 to 232% and from 13 to 144%, respectively. Mean values of MA and HQ (in mg/g creatinine) were 1.6- and 1.8-fold higher in the group of children than in the group of parents (P=0.008 and P<0.0001, respectively). Significant correlations between metabolites levels and benzene were not found.