BACKGROUND: A systematic, transparent, and data-driven approach was developed to estimate frequency and intensity of exposure to straight, soluble, and synthetic/semi-synthetic metalworking fluids (MWFs) within a case-control study of bladder cancer in New England. METHODS: We assessed frequency using individual-level information from job-specific questionnaires wherever possible, then derived and applied job group-level patterns to likely exposed jobs with less information. Intensity estimates were calculated using a statistical model developed from measurements and determinants extracted from the published literature. RESULTS: For jobs with probabilities of exposure≥0.5, median frequencies were 8-10 hr/week, depending on MWF type. Median intensities for these jobs were 2.5, 2.1, and 1.0 mg/m3 for soluble, straight, and synthetic/semi-synthetic MWFs, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Compared to case-by-case assessment, these data-driven decision rules are transparent and reproducible and may result in less biased estimates. These rules can also aid future exposure assessments of MWFs in population-based studies.