To better understand the factors that contribute to the accumulation of unmetabolized parabens (p-hydroxybenzoic acid esters) in breast cancer tissue, the binding of a series of parabens (methyl-, ethyl-, butyl-, benzyl-paraben) to human serum albumin (HSA) was investigated by fluorescence spectroscopy and also their ability to modify the binding parameters of albumin site markers. Emission spectra of HSA upon fluorescence excitation of Trp 214 residue at 295 nm were recorded at different molar ratios of PB/HSA and data were corrected for the inner-filter effect. A significant inner-filter effect was obtained for molar ratios of 2.0 and above. For lower molar ratios, a slight increase in fluorescence of HSA was detected. p-Hydroxybenzoic acid, the main metabolite of parabens, did not modify the fluorescence of HSA whatever the molar ratio used. Binding parameters for compounds that are markers of site I, bilirubin and warfarin, were determined in the absence and presence of methyl, butyl and benzyl paraben at molar ratios of PB/HSA of 0, 1 and 2. No variation of the binding constants of these markers was observed. The results indicate that parabens weakly interact with HSA thus suggesting that they are in a free form in blood and therefore more available to reach tissues. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.