Résumé : OBJECTIVES: The high incidence of malignant mesothelioma in some villages of Cappadocia (Turkey) is due to environmental exposure to erionite fibres. The aim was to evaluate the fibre burden in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from inhabitants of an erionite village and compare it with Turkish subjects with or without environmental exposure to tremolite asbestos. METHODS: Ferruginous bodies (FBs) and fibres were measured and analyzed by light and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in the BALF of 16 subjects originating from Tuzköy. RESULTS: FBs were detected in the BALF of 12 subjects, with concentrations above 1 FB/ml in seven of them. Erionite was the central fibre of 95.7% of FBs. Erionite fibres were found in the BALF of all subjects, by TEM, and these fibres were low in Mg, K, and Ca compared with erionite from Tuzköy soil. The mean concentration of erionite fibres in BALF was similar to that of tremolite fibres in Turks with environmental exposure to tremolite. The proportion of fibres longer than 8 microm in BALF represented 35.6% for erionite compared with 14.0% for tremolite. The asbestos fibre concentrations in erionite villagers was not different from that in Turks without environmental exposure to tremolite. CONCLUSION: Analysis of BALF gives information about fibre retention in populations environmentally exposed to erionite for whom data on fibre burden from lung tissue samples are scarce. This may apply to exposed Turks having emigrated to other countries.