This paper presents a critical overview of particle uptake and retention from literature through 1949. Particles > 6-..mu..m are retained in nose, or by secondary bronchi with mouth breathing. Few > 2-..mu..m particles are exhaled, trapped mostly in bronchioles (some by alveoli) by sedimentation. Maximal deposition is 0.4- to 0.8-..mu..m size in bronchioles and alveoli. Minimim retention is at 0.1 to 0.15 ..mu..m; approx. 80% are exhaled. Brownian settling of smaller particles in alveoli occurs. Particles of low density penetrate farther. Slow breathing enhances retention. Soluble toxins may be absorbed at any point along respiratory tract, so deep penetration percentage is moot in most cases.