Commuters' exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) especially BTEX travelling in passenger cars in Kolkata, India were quantified in Phase I (2001-2002) and Phase II (2003-2004). Monitoring was made inside and in the immediate outside of passenger cars fitted with and without catalytic converters using different types of fuels, along two congested urban routes. During Phase I of the study, the benzene content in gasoline was 5% and the mean concentration of in-vehicle benzene in cars without catalytic converter was found to be as high as 721.2 μg/m3. In Phase II when the benzene content was reduced to < 3% and with modified engine type, the mean in-vehicle benzene concentration was reduced to 112.4 μg/m3. The in-vehicle concentration varied with engine type and age of the vehicle. Roadside ambient mean concentration of benzene was 214.8 μg/m3 and 30.8 μg/m3 in Phase I and Phase II respectively. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.