Abstract Air quality indices are used for local and regional air quality management in many metro cities of the world. In the present study, air quality indices have been calculated using the US Environmental Protection Agency procedure to assess the status of ambient air quality near busy traffic intersections in Bangalore, India. The measured 24 h average criteria pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, respirable suspended particulate matter and suspended particulate matter for the period from 1997 to 2005 at three air quality monitoring stations are used for the development of AQIs. The result indicated that the air pollution at all the three air quality monitoring stations can be characterized as ‘good’ and ‘moderate’ for SO 2 and NO x concentrations for all days from 1997 to 2004. Analysis of air quality indices values for both forms of suspended matter concentrations during 1999–2005 indicates 91% and 94% of the times days are in category ‘good’ and ‘moderate’. The yearly average air quality indices values of respirable suspended particulate matter and suspended particulate matter concentrations indicated decreasing trend and are coming under the category of ‘good’ and ‘moderate’ form the category of ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’.