Video exposure assessments were conducted in a comparative anatomy laboratory using formaldehyde-preserved sharks and cats. Work in the facility using time-integrated samplers indicated personal and area concentrations generally below the current OSHA permissible exposure limit. However, complaints about room air quality were frequent and routine. Using a photoionization detector with an integral data logger, total ionizables present were sampled as a surrogate for formaldehyde. After synchronizing time tracks from the datalogger concentrations with simultaneously created videotapes of laboratory tasks, composite video exposure overlays were generated. Use of this video exposure method revealed very short-lived, excessively high peak exposure events, whereas conventional time-weighted averages indicated the majority (30/32) of personal exposures were below the OSHA limit of 0.75 ppm. These legally acceptable exposure levels were associated with self-reported symptoms of burning nose and eyes and eye irritation. Thus, transient peak formaldehyde concentrations not detected by longer term averaging studies could be responsible for the health effects reported. The video exposure monitoring method demonstrated that close dissection work, opening peritoneal cavities, and specimen selection activities were most likely the causes of elevated student exposures. Teaching assistants' exposures were the highest, exceeding OSHA limits on several occasions. The utility of the video monitoring method for conducting enhanced, critical task exposure assessments is discussed.