Although direct contact during mixing/loading, application or repair and clean-up is the major pathway by which individuals living on farms are exposed to herbicides, indirect sources such as contact with contaminated surfaces may also contribute. As part of a biomonitoring study to measure the nature and extent of exposure of farm families to herbicides, we attempted to identify potential indirect sources of exposure in a subset of 32 Ontario farms. Herbicide residues in drinking water samples as well as surface swipes of common surfaces within the home were measured and compared with urinary concentrations of the applicator, spouse and child. Residues of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) were measured on all surfaces that were tested, with the highest levels found on the washing machine knob and wash-up faucet within the home. Drinking water was not a significant source of exposure to 2,4-D for farm families. Urine samples of family members were weakly correlated with residues of 2,4-D measured on the exterior door knob. The applicators in our study, the most highly exposed subpopulation in our study group, had exposures that were less than one-third of the exposure on a daily, lifetime basis deemed to be safe by regulatory agencies in Canada and the United States. As 2,4-D residues were detected on surfaces in farm homes where 2,4-D was not reportedly used at that time, this suggests that 2,4-D applied during a previous season (or on a neighbouring farm) may be tracked into the home and persist on hard surfaces and be a chronic, albeit low level, source of exposure for family members. Pesticide applicators and their families should be counselled on hygienic practices (e.g. removing footware and washing soiled hands prior to entering the home) to reduce indirect sources of exposure. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (2006) 16, 98-104. doi:10.1038/sj.jea.7500441; published online 13 July 2005.