Formation of hydroxycyclohexadienyl (I), the product of the OH + benzene reaction, has been obsd. directly in the gas phase at 298 K using long-path cw-UV-laser absorption at 308 nm. The absorption cross section at this wavelength is (9.2 +- 2) * 10-18 cm2. The use of this technique to study directly the subsequent oxidn. of I by O2 is emphasized.