Abstract Fifty samples of indoor and outdoor PM2.5 were collected onto quartz fiber and Teflon membrane filters in five office buildings equipped with heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system for 8 h daily in order to coincide with the work shift of employees. Samples were analyzed for i) mass concentration; ii) elemental concentration; and iii) oxidative potential (OP) through antioxidant depletion. The PM2.5 mass concentration exceeded the annual mean guideline of 10 μg m−3 WHO in 50% of the samples. Indoor and outdoor PM2.5 mass concentrations correlated almost linearly. Proton-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) spectrometry was used for the monitoring of 21 elements. Quantitative determination was achieved in the case of Teflon filters only for Al, Si, S, Cl, K, Ca, Ti, Cr, Mn, Fe and Zn at ng m−3 concentration level. Quartz fiber filters were less adequate for the PIXE measurements due to their greater thickness and filamentary structure. Ca, Cr, Zn and Ti had generally higher concentration (mg g−1) indoors. Indoor/outdoor (I/O) OP values were higher than one in 14% and 57% of the samples in the case of ascorbate and reduced glutathione (GSH), respectively. Spatial and temporal variations of OP were observed across the office buildings. The I/O ratios for OP, Cr and Zn concentration in the case of GSH were higher for three buildings. Significant relationship was observed between GSH oxidation and Cr and Zn concentration. Thus, employees were exposed to a higher extent to reactive oxygen species in three buildings.