In recent years, Asia has experienced rapid economic growth and a deteriorating environment caused by the increasing use of fossil fuels. Although the deleterious effects of air pollution from fossil-fuel combustion have been demonstrated in many Western nations, few comparable studies have been conducted in Asia. Time-series studies of daily mortality in Asian cities can contribute important new information to the existing body of knowledge about air pollution and health. Not only can these studies verify important health effects of air pollution in local regions in Asia, they can also help determine the relevance of existing air pollution studies to mortality and morbidity for policymaking and environmental controls. In addition, the studies can help identify factors that might modify associations between air pollution and health effects in various populations and environmental conditions. Collaborative multicity studies in Asia-especially when designed, conducted, and analyzed using a common protocol-will provide more robust air pollution effect estimates for the region as well as relevant, supportable estimates of local adverse health effects needed by environmental and public-health policymakers. SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES: The Public Health and Air Pollution in Asia (PAPA*) project, sponsored by the Health Effects Institute, consisted of four studies designed to assess the effects of air pollution on mortality in four large Asian cities, namely Bangkok, in Thailand, and Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Wuhan, in China. In the PAPA project, a Common Protocol was developed based on methods developed and tested in NMMAPS, APHEA, and time-series studies in the literature to help ensure that the four studies could be compared with each other and with previous studies by following an established protocol. The Common Protocol (found at the end of this volume) is a set of prescriptive instructions developed for the studies and used by the investigators in each city. It is flexible enough to allow for adjustments in methods to optimize the fit of health-effects models to each city's data set. It provides the basis for generating reproducible results in each city and for meta-estimates from combined data. By establishing a common methodology, factors that might influence the differences in results from previous studies can more easily be explored. Administrative support was provided to ensure that the highest quality data were used in the analysis. It is anticipated that the PAPA results will contribute to the international scientific discussion of how to conduct and interpret time-series studies of air pollution and will stimulate the development of high-quality routine systems for recording daily deaths and hospital admissions for time-series analysis. Mortality data were retrieved from routine databases with underlying causes of death coded using the World Health Organization (WHO) International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision or 10th revision (ICD-9, ICD-10). Air quality measurements included nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter < or = 10 microm (PM10), and ozone (O3) and were obtained from several fixed-site air monitoring stations that were located throughout the metropolitan areas of the four cities and that met the standards of procedures for quality assurance and quality control carried out by local government units in each city.