Despite the richness of data collected on pesticide concentrations in ambient air in France, knowledge on this topic remains partial and heterogeneous in the absence of specific regulations. The population exposure remains thus difficult to estimate; therefore it was necessary to define modalities for implementing national monitoring of pesticides in ambient air in metropolitan France and in the overseas territories. The objective of this work was to identify which active substances (a.s.) have to be monitored in priority. As part of a collective expertise, a group of multidisciplinary experts has developed a method to rank active substances authorised as plant protection products, biocides and antiparasitic agents, which were available on the French market in 2015. A 3-steps approach has been developed. The first step consisted of a theoretical approach based on a hierarchy of substances according to four criteria: (a) national uses, (b) emission potential to the air, (c) persistence in the air, and (d) chronic toxicity. The three first criteria give information on their potential to be present in the atmosphere, and the fourth criterion allows to consider their potential of hazard. The second step was an observational approach based on existing database on pesticide air measurements in France. In the third step, both approaches were combined using decision trees to select priority pesticides. Among the 1316 a.s. first identified from the EU Pesticides database, 90 were selected, among which 43 required metrological and/or analytical development. The experts recommended confirming the relevance of performing a longer term monitoring of these a. s. after a one-year exploratory campaign. The proposed method is reproduceable, transparent, easy to update (e.g. in the light of a change in product authorization), and can be adapted to other agricultural and geographical conditions, and objectives (e.g. monitoring of the ecotoxicological effects of pesticides).