A field study was conducted in which saliva samples were collected from a cohort of herbicide applicators during the pre-emergent spray season in Ohio in 1996. Atrazine concentrations were detected in human saliva samples using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method. Trend due to atrazine exposure and subsequent elimination in the body were evidenced by the temporal pattern of decreasing atrazine concentrations in saliva over time. Median salivary concentrations of atrazine on non-spray days were significantly lower than on spray days for each sampling time (Mann-Whitney U-Wilcoxon rank sum test, P < 0.01). Within spray days, median salivary atrazine concentrations were significantly higher on days atrazine was sprayed than on days herbicides other than atrazine were sprayed for each sampling time (Mann-Whitney U-Wilcoxon rank sum test, P = 0.02 for 4 6 p.m. samples, P = 0.04 for bedtime samples, P = 0.03 for next-morning samples). Median salivary atrazine concentrations on days atrazine was sprayed were higher than the median concentration for the corresponding sampling time on non-spray days and on days when other herbicides were sprayed. Salivary concentration of atrazine is a plausible indicator of those days in which atrazine spraying was likely to have occurred. Salivary concentrations of atrazine not only reflect exposures resulting from spraying atrazine, but also exposures from other field activities where applicators may come in contact with atrazine. The results of this study confirmed data from animal experiments that atrazine is able to cross the cell membranes of salivary glands, and can be measured in human saliva with high sensitivity. The sampling method itself is convenient and easy to use in the field, with a high compliance rate, and analytical procedures are rapid and inexpensive. It is, therefore, concluded that saliva sampling of atrazine exposure among herbicide applicators is a feasible biomonitoring method.