The concentration of particulate matter in outdoor air, as indicated by daily measures of particulate matter 10 microm in diameter (PM10) in many cities, has been found to be associated with the daily number of deaths and hospital admissions in these cities. To understand this association better, we studied the daily number of hospital admissions for respiratory diseases and the concentrations of eight pollutants in ambient air, during a period of 38 months, in an area with cold winters and air pollution that comes mainly from motor vehicles. We estimated the changes in risk of hospitalization by interquartile increases in pollutant concentrations by Poisson regression analyses. Controlling for periodic trends and weather, the relative risk of hospitalization associated with an interquartile increase of PM10 was 1.038 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.991-1.087]. In contrast, the relative risk associated with benzene was 1.105 (95% CI = 1.047-1.166). In a two-pollutant model, the relative risk estimates were 1.014 (95% CI = 0.966-1.063) for PM10 and 1.090 (95% CI = 1.031-1.153) for benzene. We evaluated other two- and three-pollutant models and concluded that pollutants other than PM10 are more strongly associated with hospital admissions for respiratory diseases.