Particulate air pollution has been related with cardiopulmonary morbidity and mortality. Recent studies have shown that an increase in particulate matter (PM)(2.5) ambient concentrations was associated with a decrease in heart rate variability (HRV) in the elderly with cardiovascular conditions, which could increase the risk of death. In order to assess if this association could also be observed in young adults, we studied 40 young healthy residents of the Mexico City Metropolitan Area (MCMA) who underwent 13 h Holter electrocardiographic and PM(2.5) personal monitoring. HRV was evaluated in time domain: the standard deviation of normal RR intervals (SDNN) and the percentage of differences between adjacent normal RR intervals larger than 50 ms (pNN50). In multivariate analysis with mixed effects models, a significant negative association of pNN50 with PM(2.5) accumulative exposure was found. An increase in 30 microg/m(3) of the average PM(2.5) personal exposure in the previous 2 h decreased the pNN50 in 0.08% (P=0.01). This observation revealed an acute effect related to environmental exposure to PM(2.5) with regard to HRV in normal youngsters. The long-term health consequences of this association in young healthy adults remain to be clarified.