Factors influencing the response of total organic vapor detection instruments used in soil-gas surveying for subsurface gasoline leakage were investigated through performing theoretical assessments and laboratory experiments. Theoretical assessments indicate that total organic vapor measurements will depend on response conditions and the relative concentration of constituents in soil gas, in addition to absolute constituent levels. Laboratory tests conducted using flame ionization, photoionization and explosimeter devices indicated that conditions influencing their responses included instrument flow rate and soil-air permeability when performing direct-probe sampling; the linear range of the instrument; the multicomponent nature of gasoline vapors; and levels of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and relative humidity in soil air. If an instrument's response to these conditions is not taken into account, survey results may be misleading. To circumvent adverse instrument responses, a serial dilution technique is presented.