Very sensitive methods that can detect the benzene metabolite muconic acid (MA) in the urine of virtually all members of the general population have recently become available and have been used in a few occupational studies as a marker of benzene exposure. Preliminary findings from these studies suggest that urinary MA may be a reliable marker of occupational exposure to greater than 5 ppm benzene. It was also consistently observed that a certain proportion of the general population have urinary MA levels compatible with those seen in persons occupationally exposed to greater than 1 ppm benzene. It is unlikely that these elevated levels can be explained solely as being artifactual. The frequency with which they occur for a given individual, and the duration with which they are maintained, are not known. Information on these two factors is needed in order to adequately assess whether or not these levels present a significant risk for a segment of the general population.