A simple and high collection efficiency sampling method was developed for the monitoring of carbonyl compounds, i.e., formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzaldehyde, acetone and butanone. The determination is based on the reaction of these compounds in a sensitive absorbing solution of 2,4-DNPH. After the completion of the reaction the derivatives were analyzed by the HPLC system without any post sample preparation. The operation conditions of the proposed method were optimized to obtain the highest sampling efficiency within a short analysis time. The collection efficiency for all compounds was in the range of 95 ± 3 % to 99 ± 4 % and the relative standard deviations (n = 15) were less than 10 %. This method was validated and applied to monitor carbonyl compounds in air samples from an occupational environment, the adhesive industry. Formaldehyde was found to be the most abundant carbonyl compound (64 ± 8 to 250 ± 20 ppbv), followed by acetaldehyde (ND to 24 ± 6 ppbv), acetone (ND to 21 ± 5 ppbv) and benzaldehyde (ND to 27 ± 7 ppbv). The sampling of air directly into the absorbing solution was compared with the conventional method of using an adsorbent cartridge, and the results were in good agreement (P > 0.05).