this survey is part of a more comprehensive study on the health consequences of pesticide exposure. in the county (municipality) of paty do alferes, rio de janeiro state, brazil, 55 agricultural workers were interviewed on the use of pesticides, use of personal protective equipment, data on health status, and symptoms related to pesticide exposure, disposal of agrochemical containers, and technical assistance. the most widely used pesticides were insecticides such as abamectin, organophosphate compounds, and pyrethroids, and fungicides such as mancozeb, chlorothalonil, and copper products. as a rule, pesticides are handled carelessly, and 92% of workers involved in the mixing, loading, and spraying of insecticides and fungicides used no protective clothing or equipment whatsoever. some 62% of workers reported at least one illness associated with mixing or spraying pesticides. the most frequently reported symptoms were headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, skin irritation, and blurred vision, and 21% of affected workers required medical care. in more than half (51%) of the cases, workers reported using organophosphate insecticides from toxicological class i when they felt sick.