The effects of many environmental exposures to either single contaminants or to mixtures still remain to be properly assessed in ecotoxicological and human toxicological settings. Such assessments need to be carried out using relevant biological assays. On a mechanistic basis, future studies need to be able to extrapolate exposure to disease risk. It is envisaged that such an approach would lead to the development of appropriate strategies to either reduce exposures or to initiate preventative measures in susceptible individuals or populations. To mark the opening of a new Institute, the Lancaster Environmental Centre, an environmental health workshop was held over 2 days (9–10 September 2003) at Lancaster University, UK. The fate, behaviour and movement of chemicals in the environment, together with environmental exposures and human health, biomarkers of such exposures, hormone-like compounds and appropriate genetic toxicology methodologies, were discussed.