To monitor the quality/reliability of a (production) process, it is sometimes advisable to monitor the time between certain events (say occurrence of defects) instead of the number of events, particularly when the events occur rarely. In this case it is common to assume that the times between the events follow an exponential distribution. In this paper, we propose a one- and a two-sided control chart for phase I data from an exponential distribution. The control charts are derived from a modified boxplot procedure. The charting constants are obtained by controlling the overall Type I error rate and are tabulated for some configurations. A numerical example is provided for illustration. The in-control robustness and the out-of-control performance of the proposed charts are examined and compared with those of some existing charts in a simulation study. It is seen that the proposed charts are considerably more in-control robust and have out-control properties comparable to the competing charts. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.