A cross section of the population of Michigan was studied in 1978 to evaluate residual burdens of polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), a flame-retardant chemical that had contaminated the state's food supply five years earlier. Levels of PBB were measured in serum specimens in 1,681 people and in adipose samples in 844. Ninety-seven percent of the adipose samples had detectable PBB concentrations. Levels of PBB were highest in that part of the state where meat and dairy products had been most contaminated and were lowest in the upper peninsula, farthest from the source. Levels for the rest of the state were in between. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and 2,2'-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1, 1-dichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE), a dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) residue, were also measured, and variations of PBB, PCB, and p,p'-DDE levels with age and sex were investigated.