The impacts of ambient PM2.5 on public health have become great concerns worldwide, especially in the developing countries. Epidemiological and toxicological studies have shown that PM2.5 does not only induce cardiopulmonary disorders and/or impairments, but also contributes to a variety of other adverse health effects, such as driving the initiation and progression of diabetes mellitus and eliciting adverse birth outcomes. Of note, recent findings have demonstrated that PM2.5 may still pose a hazard to public health even at very low levels (far below national standards) of exposure. The proposed underlying mechanisms whereby PM2.5 causes adverse effects to public health include inducing intracellular oxidative stress, mutagenicity/genotoxicity and inflammatory responses. The present review aims to provide an brief overview of new insights into the molecular mechanisms linking ambient PM2.5 exposure and health effects, which were explored with new technologies in recent years. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.