Activated carbon fiber (ACF) has been demonstrated to be a good adsorbent for the removal of organic vapors in air. Some ACF has a comparable or larger surface area and higher adsorption capacity when compared with granular activated carbon (GAC) commonly used in respiratory protection devices. ACF is an attractive alternative adsorbent to GAC because of its ease of handling, light weight, and decreasing cost. ACF may offer the potential for short-term respiratory protection for first responders and emergency personnel. This study compares the critical bed depths and adsorption capacities for toluene among GAC and ACF of different forms and surface areas. GAC and ACF in cloth (ACFC) and felt (ACFF) forms were challenged in stainless steel chambers with a constant concentration of 500 ppm toluene via conditioned air at 25C, 50% RH, and constant airflow (7 L/min). Breakthrough data were obtained for each adsorbent using gas chromatography with flame ionization detector. Surface areas of each adsorbent were determined using a physisorption analyzer. Results showed that the critical bed depth of GAC is 275% higher than the average of ACFC but is 55% lower than the average of ACFF. Adsorption capacity of GAC (with a nominal surface area of 1800 m 2/g) at 50% breakthrough is 25% higher than the average of ACF with surface area of 1000 m 2/g, while the rest of ACF with surface area of 1500 m 2/g and higher have 40% higher adsorption capacities than GAC. ACFC with higher surface area has the smallest critical bed depth and highest adsorption capacity, which makes it a good adsorbent for thinner and lighter respirators. We concluded that ACF has great potential for application in respiratory protection considering its higher adsorption capacity and lower critical bed depth in addition to its advantages over GAC, particularly for ACF with higher surface area. Copyright © 2011 JOEH, LLC.