This article attempts to review the usage of nine pesticides included in the 12 Stockholm Convention persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in China and to examine the extent of DDT contamination in human milk, focusing on the Chinese populations. By comparing all the data available concerning DDTs in human milk from 19 countries, it is revealed that the Chinese populations exhibit rather high concentrations of DDTs, due to the fact that China has been a major producer and consumer of DDTs in the past, and also uses DDT for vector control, resulting in higher background levels of DDTs in different ecological compartments. The high body loading of DDT in Chinese populations is also related to the high dietary intake due to contamination of food. When comparing the data obtained recently (1998-2002), the coastal populations such as Guangzhou (DDE + DDT 2.13 μg g⁻¹ fat), Hong Kong (2.87 μg g⁻¹ fat) and Dalian (2.13 μg g⁻¹ fat) contain higher concentrations of DDTs which may reflect the dietary difference of consuming more meat and fish, than other Chinese populations (Beijing 1.96 μg g⁻¹ fat; Shenyang 0.87 μg g⁻¹ fat). In general, the rather low ratio of DDE/DDT (e.g., 4.07 for Guangzhou) of the Chinese milk samples reflected the more recent releases of DDT. It is recommended to impose a tighter control on the use of DDT for vector control as well as for agricultural application, conduct regular monitoring of DDT concentrations in different ecological compartments which include air, water, sediment and biota. Human milk is a preferred indicator reflecting human body loadings of POPs including DDTs, as well as the risk which may impose on our next generation. A national wide survey is needed to investigate the intake of POPs, including POP pesticides, due to dietary differences, with a strong focus on the more sensitive populations, e.g., coastal residents who consume a large amount of fish. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.