PM10 and PM2.5 samples were collected in the indoor environments of four hospitals and their adjacent outdoor environments in Guangzhou, China during the summertime. The concentrations of 18 target elements in particles were also quantified. The results showed that indoor PM2.5 levels with an average of 99 microg m(-3) were significantly higher than outdoor PM2.5 standard of 65 microg m(-3) recommended by USEPA [United States Environmental Protection Agency. Office of Air and Radiation, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Fact Sheet. EPA's Revised Particulate Matter Standards, 17, July 1997] and PM2.5 constituted a large fraction of indoor respirable particles (PM10) by an average of 78% in four hospitals. High correlation between PM2.5 and PM10 (R(2) of 0.87 for indoors and 0.90 for outdoors) suggested that PM2.5 and PM10 came from similar particulate emission sources. The indoor particulate levels were correlated with the corresponding outdoors (R(2) of 0.78 for PM2.5 and 0.67 for PM10), demonstrating that outdoor infiltration could lead to direct transportation into indoors. In addition to outdoor infiltration, human activities and ventilation types could also influence indoor particulate levels in four hospitals. Total target elements accounted for 3.18-5.56% of PM2.5 and 4.38-9.20% of PM10 by mass, respectively. Na, Al, Ca, Fe, Mg, Mn and Ti were found in the coarse particles, while K, V, Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Sn, Pb, As and Se existed more in the fine particles. The average indoor concentrations of total elements were lower than those measured outdoors, suggesting that indoor elements originated mainly from outdoor emission sources. Enrichment factors (EF) for trace element were calculated to show that elements of anthropogenic origins (Zn, Pb, As, Se, V, Ni, Cu and Cd) were highly enriched with respect to crustal composition (Al, Fe, Ca, Ti and Mn). Factor analysis was used to identify possible pollution source-types, namely street dust, road traffic and combustion processes.