A field investigation was initiated in the summer 1978 to quantify the influence of meteorological factors, ignition method, and fuel conditions on the behaviour of smoke plumes from open field burning. Measurements of air quality and meteorological conditions were performed within the plumes and their environment on 11 operational days during July and August using ground-based and airborne instrumentation. At the individual fields concurrent measurements were made of fuel conditions and fire characteristics. Groud-level particulate concentrations downwind of the burn area were found to be strongly correlated with plume height, which in turn was found to be predictable by means of equations presented by Briggs (1969). Thus, the impact of field burning on surface air quality was found to depend primarily on the burn rate, the field dimensions, the ambient windspeed, and the vertical potential temperature gradient. Using these results it was possible to develop simplified expressions for particulate exposure and peak concentration as smoke management tools.