A suspicion of an excess cancer risk in automotive model shops prompted the Industrywide Studies Branch, NIOSH, to conduct a proportionate mortality study and an industrial hygiene characterization of operations in these shops. The mortality study showed a statistically significant excess proportion of deaths due to colon cancer and leukemia (for woodshops only). The materials used in the model shops include various natural woods, laminated woods, plastics, resins, varnishes, putties and paints. Personal breathing zone samples were collected for total and respirable dust, amines, various hydrocarbons (including styrene, and toluene), formaldehyde, and nitrosamines. Particle size distribution studies were conducted on the wood dust and bulk airborne samples of dusts were subjected to various mutagenicity test systems. Work practices, ventilation and general housekeeping were checked. Total wood dust samples ranged from 0.03 to 25 mg/m3 with an average around 1.0 mg/m3. The percent respirable dust ranged from 19 to 38% as measured with Andersen impactors. Solvent exposure samples ranged from non-detectable to about 10% of the OSHA Permissible Exposure Levels. Relevant recommendations for improvement of contaminant control were made.