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In 1998 Congress mandated expanded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) health effects research on ambient air particulate matter (PM) and a National Research Council (NRC) committee to provide research oversight. The U.S. EPA currently supports intramural and extramural PM research, including five academically based PM centers. The PM centers in their first 2.5 years have initiated research directed at critical issues identified by the NRC committee, including collaborative activities, and sponsored scientific workshops in key research areas. Through these activities, there is a better understanding of PM health effects and scientific uncertainties. Future PM centers research will focus on long-term effects associated with chronic PM exposures. This report provides a synopsis of accomplishments to date, short-term goals (during the next 2.5 years) and longer-term goals. It consists of six sections: biological mechanisms, acute effects, chronic effects, dosimetry, exposure assessment, and the specific attributes of a coordinated PM centers program.