The concentrations of 1-hydroxypyrene (1-HOPYR), and 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-hydroxyphenanthrene (HOPHE) as metabolites of pyrene and phenanthrene, were measured in urine samples collected from 124 housewives (27 smokers and 97 non-smokers) living in Bottrop, an industrial city located in the Ruhr area in Germany. The urine samples were analyzed by a very sensitive and practical high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) method using a two-column switching technique and a special precolumn packing material followed by fluorescence detection. The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) metabolites are selectively enrichéd on the precolumn and separated from the matrix. Therefore, laborious clean-up steps were omitted. The above-mentioned PAH metabolites could be detected in all urine samples investigated. Smokers had significantly higher urine concentrations of 1-HOPYR (median 0.48 microgram/g creatinine), 3-HOPHE (median 0.61 microgram/g creatinine), 2-HOPHE (0.41 microgram/g creatinine) and 4-HOPHE (median 0.10 microgram/g creatinine) than non-smokers (median 0.15 microgram/g creatinine, 0.31 microgram/g creatinine, 0.31 microgram/g creatinine and 0.04 microgram/g creatinine, respectively). The study shows that the influence of smoking is of such an order of magnitude that potential environmental exposure to PAH in this highly industrialized area is obscured by smoking habits. Furthermore, it can be concluded that the determination of 1-HOPYR, 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-HOPHE in urine is a diagnostically useful method for the biological monitoring of persons environmentally exposed to PAH.