In contrast to arsenic (As) poisoning caused by naturally occurring inorganic arsenic-contaminated water consumption, coal arsenic poisoning (CAP) induced by elevated arsenic exposure from coal combustion has rarely been reported. In this study, the concentrations and distributions of urinary arsenic metabolites in 57 volunteers (36 subjects with skin lesions and 21 subjects without skin lesions), who had been exposed to elevated levels of arsenic present in coal in Changshapu village in the south of Shaanxi Province (China), were reported. The urinary arsenic species, including inorganic arsenic (iAs) [arsenite (iAsIII
) and arsenate (iAsV
)], monomethylarsonic acid (MMAV
) and dimethylarsinic acid (DMAV
), were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) combined with inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS). The relative distributions of arsenic species, the primary methylation index (PMI = MMAV
/iAs) and the secondary methylation index (SMI = DMAV
) were calculated to assess the metabolism of arsenic. Subjects with skin lesions had a higher concentration of urinary arsenic and a lower arsenic methylation capability than subjects without skin lesions. Women had a significantly higher methylation capability of arsenic than men, as defined by a higher percent DMAV
and SMI in urine among women, which was the one possible interpretation of women with a higher concentration of urinary arsenic but lower susceptibility to skin lesions. The findings suggested that not only the dose of arsenic exposure but also the arsenic methylation capability have an impact on the individual susceptibility to skin lesions induced by coal arsenic exposure.