To estimate exposure to cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) through cigarette smoking, the concentrations of both metals in the blood or/and urine of smokers (20 cigarettes or more per day for 10 years or longer) and their non-smoking counterparts inhabiting an environmentally unpolluted area (Bialystok, Poland) were evaluated, as well as Cd and Pb contents in the cigarette brands (produced in Poland) smoked by the participants, including intact cigarettes, pre-smoking (tobacco, paper and filter) and post-smoking (butt, ash and smoke) cigarette components. Blood and urinary Cd concentrations in the smokers have been already reported by us to be 2-4 times higher than in the non-smokers (Galazyn-Sidorczuk et al. Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, 13 (Suppl.1):91-95, 2004). All the other measurements are the subject of the present paper. Pb concentration in the blood of the cigarette smokers (52.12 +/- 15.51 microg l(-1)) was higher by 29% than in the non-smokers (40.42 +/- 11.19 microg l(-1)). The mean Cd and Pb contents in the cigarettes were 0.6801 +/- 0.1765 and 0.6853 +/- 0.0746 microg per cigarette, respectively. Under cigarette burning, performed using a machine for self-acting burning, on average 33% of Cd and 11% of Pb present in the whole cigarette was released into the smoke. For Cd, unlike Pb, there was a high positive correlation between the metal content in cigarettes and tobacco and its release into the smoke. Moreover, the subjects smoking cigarettes containing the highest Cd amount had higher blood Cd concentration than smokers of other cigarette brands. The results give clear evidence that in the case of inhabitants of areas unpolluted with Cd and Pb habitual cigarette smoking, due to tobacco contamination, creates a serious source of chronic exposure to these metals, especially to Cd.