To study the validity of urinary benzene as a biomarker of low and very low exposure to this toxicant, as compared with t,t-muconic acid (t,t-MA) and S-phenylmercapturic acid (SPMA), also taking into account the influence of cigarette smoking and co-exposure to toluene on the urinary excretion of benzene. The results obtained in two different studies were compared: in the first, workers occupationally exposed to low concentrations of benzene (18 fuel tanker drivers and 23 filling station attendants) were compared with 31 controls and in the second, workers exposed to very low concentrations of benzene (the same 23 filling station attendants) were compared with the 31 controls. Exposure to airborne benzene and toluene was monitored with passive personal samplers (Radiello). Then the urine collected at the end of the work shift was analyzed for t,t-MA, SPMA and urinary benzene. All participants also filled out a questionnaire about their lifestyle habits. There were no differences among the three groups in terms of age and smoking habit. Occupational exposure to benzene and toluene and the urinary concentrations of t,t-MA, SPMA and urinary benzene were higher in the fuel tanker drivers than the filling station attendants and higher in the latter than in the controls. Cigarette smoking was found to be associated with urinary excretion of t,t-MA, SPMA and urinary benzene at both low and very low exposure to benzene. The biomarkers t,t-MA, SPMA and urinary benzene were almost always correlated, for both low and very low exposure to benzene. Notably, for low exposure to benzene a dependency relation was found with the levels of t,t-MA, SPMA and urinary benzene on both cigarette smoking and airborne benzene, whereas for very low exposure to benzene there was a dependency relation of SPMA on cigarette smoking and airborne benzene, of urinary benzene only on cigarette smoking and of t,t-MA on none of the variables considered. For occupational exposure to low concentrations of benzene, urinary benzene and SPMA showed a comparable validity, while for exposure to very low concentrations of this toxicant the validity of SPMA was confirmed while urinary benzene was found to be less useful. Cigarette smoking was the main factor conditioning the excretion of all the biomarkers of benzene in conditions of both low and very low exposure to the toxicant, so for the analysis of occupational exposure to benzene it is best to recommend abstention from smoking at least in the hours immediately before urine collection.