The effect of exposure to formaldehyde (CH2O) on the CH2O concentration of the blood was determined. Eight male F-344 rats were exposed to 14.4 +/- 2.4 ppm of CH2O for 2 hours and the blood was collected immediately after exposure. Formaldehyde concentrations in the blood were determined by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. The blood of eight rats unexposed to CH2O was collected and analyzed in the same manner. Measured CH2O concentrations (micrograms/g of blood) were: controls, 2.24 +/- 0.07; exposed, 2.25 +/- 0.07 (mean +/- S.E.). Formaldehyde concentrations in human blood were determined by analyzing samples of venous blood collected before and after exposure of six human volunteers (4 M, 2 F) to 1.9 +/- 0.1 ppm of CH2O for 40 min. Average CH2O concentrations (micrograms/g of blood) were: before exposure, 2.61 +/- 0.14; after exposure, 2.77 +/- 0.28. In neither experiment was there a statistically significant effect of exposure on the average CH2O concentration of the blood. However, human subjects differed significantly with respect to their blood CH2O concentrations, and significant differences (either an increase or a decrease) were found between the CH2O concentrations of the blood taken before and after exposure from some of the subjects, suggesting that blood CH2O concentrations may vary with time.