In two Danish iron foundries the concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in 24 personal air samples of workers employed in selected processes, i.e. melters, melted iron transporters, casters, machine molders, hand molders, shake-out workers and finishing workers, were measured and correlated to levels of 1-hydroxypyrene, alpha-naphthol and beta-naphthylamine in the urine of exposed workers. The highest total airborne PAH concentrations (sum of 15 selected PAH compounds: 9.6-11.2 micrograms/m3) were associated with casting, machine molding, and shake-out. The highest concentrations of the sum of six selected airborne carcinogenic PAH compounds were found for melting, casting and machine and hand molding. As seen in other working environments involving low-level PAH exposure, the content of naphthalene was high, in general exceeding 85% of the total content of PAH compounds. The present study demonstrates that 1-hydroxypyrene is a useful and direct biomarker of low-dose occupational exposure to PAH compounds. Molding and casting had the highest pyrene levels in iron foundries. Furthermore, the data shows that levels of beta-naphthylamine in urine are significantly elevated in iron foundry workers. Hand molders, finishing workers and truck drivers tended to have the highest levels. Concerning alpha-naphthol the highest concentrations were measured in urine from casters and shake-out workers. With regard to epidemiologic studies demonstrating that molders and casters have a higher risk of lung cancer, the present study suggests that the elevated risk may be due to exposure to carcinogenic PAH compounds in iron foundries, particularly in some high-risk work processes, e.g. casting and molding. In addition, the present study suggests that biological monitoring of 1-hydroxypyrene and beta-naphthylamine may be used to estimate the individual exposure, which seems to be correlated with exposure during individual work processes.