Lead exposure is widespread among industrial populations in the United States. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis of the lead content of bone offers a promising approach to acquisition of individualized data on chronic lead absorption in occupationally exposed populations. Dosimetric data obtained by XRF will permit accurate definition of dose-response relationships for such chronic consequences of lead exposure as central and peripheral neurologic impairment, renal disease. hypertension, and possibility reproductive dysfunction. Additionally, data on bone lead content obtained by XRF will permit validation of models describing the body lead burden and will allow direct assessment of the efficacy of therapeutic chelation. XRF data may also permit assessment of the possible role of genetic polymorphism of the enzyme delta-aminolevulinic dehydrase as a determinant of the pharmacokinetics and toxicity of lead. In both cross-sectional and prospective epidemiologic studies of body lead burden in occupationally exposed populations, the K-XRF instrument appears to be the technology of choice.