OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to estimate the normal blood lead (PbB) levels in a group of Korean subjects and to evaluate the association between PbB levels and habitual tobacco and alcohol use. METHODS: We recruited 532 adults (320 males and 212 females) with no history of occupational exposure to lead, as study subjects. RESULTS: PbB levels ranged between 0.43 microgram/dl and 9.45 microgram/dl. The adjusted geometric mean PbB in men was 3.19 microgram/dl, which was significantly higher than that seen in women: 2.66 microgram/dl (P=0.017). Geometric mean PbBs were not significantly different between urban and rural patients. The adjusted geometric mean PbB in smokers was 3.31 microgram/dl, which was significantly higher than that seen in nonsmokers: 2.64 microgram/dl (P=0.035). The adjusted geometric mean PbB in drinkers was 3.10 microgram/dl, which was significantly higher than that seen in non-drinkers: 2.75 microgram/dl (P=0.049). CONCLUSIONS: The PbB levels of some Korean adults seem to be comparable to those seen in foreign countries. Our results suggest that tobacco and alcohol cessation will be helpful in decreasing the harmful effect of lead.