Numerous studies have suggested the association of reactive oxygen species (ROS) with adverse health effects derived from exposure to airborne particulate matter (PM) and diesel exhaust particles (DEP). This redox activity has been attributed to both inorganic and organic species present in these particles, but a clear distinction has not been established between the contribution of each. This article describes an application of an analytical procedure, based on the reaction of salicylic acid with hydroxyl radical to form dihydroxybenzoate (DHBA) isomers, to measure transition metal-based redox activity associated with ambient and diesel exhaust particles. In the procedure, ascorbic acid (AA) is used as electron source for reduction of metal ions and oxygen to generate superoxide, which is further reduced to hydroxyl radical in the presence of transition metal ions. Hydroxyl radical reacts with salicylate to generate DHBA isomers, which are measured by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with electrochemical detector. Both copper (Cu) and iron (Fe) ions generated DHBA isomers in a concentration-dependent manner but at different rates. The procedure was applied to DEP and ambient particles and the results showed Cu ion to be the major contributor to DHBA formation. The procedure provides a quantitative measure of transition metal-based redox activity associated with ambient samples with different physicochemical properties.