Hair samples were collected from 24 infants (3-36 months) exposed and non-exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. Hair was washed in dichloromethane, digested in NaOH, extracted by solid-phase extraction and analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography to determine the content of nicotine and cotinine. Nicotine concentration in non-exposed infants (1.3 +/- 1.7 ng/mg hair) was significantly different from that in occasionally exposed infants (6.8 +/- 2.1 ng/mg hair) and that in infants passively exposed to smoke (15.4 +/- 6.7 ng/mg hair). Cotinine could be measured only in passive smokers infants. These findings suggest the possibility of monitoring exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in infants by using nicotine measurement in hair rather than in urine, blood or saliva.