Urinary 1-hydroxypyrene of residents of Beijing, Shenyang and Taiyuan, and workers at two coke plants, a steel plant and control groups was determined using high pressure liquid chromatography. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) of airborne particulates from these cities and coke plants were analyzed using GC-MS; chromatogram profiles, from which 15 chemical compounds were quantified, were similar. The percentage of pyrene and benzo[a]pyrene in PAHs was fairly constant. Statistical analysis showed significant correlation of urinary 1-hydroxypyrene with the concentration of pyrene and benzo[a]pyrene in the ambient PAHs; the correlation coefficient was 0.978 and 0.959, respectively. It is suggested that urinary 1-hydroxypyrene can be used as a biological monitoring index for human exposure to genotoxic PAHs from the burning of coal.