Occupational exposure to aerosolized pentamidine has raised questions regarding transmission of tuberculosis and the effect of the drug itself. To estimate the exposure of a health care worker, we measured the ambient concentration of aerosolized pentamidine in field conditions in 36 m3 unventilated treatment room. The amount of pentamidine averaged in three different environmental air samples over a four-hour period was 4.5 +/- 3.6 x 10(-5) mg/m3. This amount is very small compared to the doses received by the patients in whom long-term adverse effects are few. The greater risk to health care workers is probably transmission of tuberculosis from undiagnosed cases, especially in populations with an increased incidence of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis control measures such as improved ventilation and masks should also decrease exposure to ambient air pentamidine until toxicity studies determine long-term adverse effects, if any, of aerosolized pentamidine.