Exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM) has been linked to several adverse health effects. Since vehicular traffic is a PM source of growing importance, we sampled total suspended particulate (TSP), PM(10), and PM(2.5) at six urban locations with pronounced differences in traffic intensity. The mutagenicity, DNA-adduct formation, and induction of oxidative DNA damage by the samples were studied as genotoxicological parameters, in relation to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) levels, elemental composition, and radical-generating capacity (RGC) as chemical characteristics. We found pronounced differences in the genotoxicity and chemical characteristics of PM from the various locations, although we could not establish a correlation between traffic intensity and any of these characteristics for any of the PM size fractions. Therefore, the differences between locations may be due to local sources of PM, other than traffic. The concentration of total (carcinogenic) PAHs correlated positively with RGC, direct and S9-mediated mutagenicity, as well as the induction of DNA adducts and oxidative DNA damage. The interaction between total PAHs and transition metals correlated positively with DNA-adduct formation, particularly from the PM(2.5) fraction. RGC was not associated with one specific PM size fraction, but mutagenicity and DNA reactivity after metabolic activation were relatively high in PM(10) and PM(2.5), when compared with TSP. We conclude that the toxicological characteristics of urban PM samples show pronounced differences, even when PM concentrations at the sample sites are comparable. This implies that emission reduction strategies that take chemical and toxicological characteristics of PM into account may be useful for reducing the health risks associated with PM exposure.