Previous reports have indicated that a majority of the population has asbestos bodies within their lungs. These studies generally have been carried out using cohorts from urban environments. The present study compares the asbestos body levels from three unique cohorts: (1) a nonoccupationally exposed group from a large urban environment having a relatively low asbestos content, (2) patients with lung cancer from a nonurban setting, and (3) amosite asbestos workers, who worked and lived in a rural setting. The number of asbestos bodies in both the urban nonoccupationally exposed group and the patients with lung cancer was generally found to be low or below limits of detectability, with the exceptions being those persons in whom an occupational exposure was eventually found. The ferruginous body content of the occupationally exposed group varied considerably between individuals as well as between sites within the same individual.