Air–soil exchange is an important process governing the fate of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). A novel passive air sampler was designed and tested for measuring the vertical concentration profile of 4 low molecular weight PAHs in gaseous phase (PAHLMW4) in near soil surface air. Air at various heights from 5 to 520 mm above the ground was sampled by polyurethane foam disks held in down-faced cartridges. The samplers were tested at three sites: A: an extremely contaminated site, B: a site near A, and C: a background site on a university campus. Vertical concentration gradients were revealed for PAHLMW4 within a thin layer close to soil surface at the three sites. PAH concentrations either decreased (Site A) or increased (Sites B and C) with height, suggesting either deposition to or evaporation from soils. The sampler is a useful tool for investigating air–soil exchange of gaseous phase semi-volatile organic chemicals.