There is growing evidence that in addition to augmenting the severity of asthma and allergic diseases, particulate air pollution also increases the incidence of allergy and asthma. We studied the adjuvant effect of particles from wood smoke and road traffic on the immune response to the allergen ovalbumin (OVA). OVA with and without particles was injected into one hind footpad of Balb/cA mice. All particles together with OVA significantly increased the level of OVA-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) in serum, compared to groups given OVA or particles alone. Reference diesel exhaust particles (DEP) with OVA induced the highest levels of IgE, whereas no clear difference was observed between particles from road traffic and wood smoke. Road traffic particles collected in the autumn induced higher IgE values with OVA than corresponding particles collected during the winter season when studded tires are used, suggesting that studded tire-generated road pavement particles have less allergy adjuvant activity than exhaust particles. Compared to OVA or particles alone, all particles with OVA increased popliteal lymph node cell numbers, cell proliferation, ex vivo secretion of IL-4 and IL-10 after ConA stimulation, and the expression of several cell surface molecules (CD19, MHC class II, CD86 and CD23). Wood smoke particles with OVA induced somewhat higher cellular responses than road traffic particles, but less than DEP with OVA which seemed to be the most potent particle in inducing cellular as well as antibody responses. Thus, wood smoke particles had about the same capacity to enhance allergic sensitization as road traffic particles, but less than diesel exhaust particles.