Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides through traditional food resources was examined for Arctic Indigenous women living in two cultural and environmental areas of the Canadian Arctic--one community representing Baffin Island Inuit in eastern Arctic and two communities representing Sahtú Dene/Métis in western Arctic. Polychlorinated biphenyls, toxaphene, chlorobenzenes, hexachlorocyclohexanes, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, chlordane-related compounds and dieldrin were determined in local food resources as normally prepared and eaten. Quantified dietary recalls taken seasonally reflected normal consumption patterns of these food resources by women in three age groups: 20-40 y, 41-60 y and > or = 61 y. There was wide variation of intake of all organochlorine contaminants in both areas and among age groups for the Sahtú. Fifty percent of the intake recalls collected from the Baffin Inuit exceeded the acceptable daily intake for chlordane-related compounds and toxaphene, and a substantial percentage of the intake records for dieldrin and polychlorinated biphenyls exceeded the acceptable or tolerable daily intake levels. Primary contributing foods to organochlorine contaminants intake for the Baffin Inuit were meat and blubber of ringed seal, blubber of walrus and mattak and blubber of narwal. Important foods contributing organochlorine contaminant to the Sahtú Dene/Métis were caribou, whitefish, inconnu, trout and duck. The superior nutritional benefits and potential health risks of traditional food items are reviewed, as are implications for monitoring organochlorine contaminant contents of food, clinical symptoms and food use.