The rate of chloride ion ingress into concrete is of great importance for the performance of reinforced concrete structures exposed to chloride-contaminated environments. The service life of reinforced concrete structures subjected to such exposure conditions is closely related to the rate of chloride ion diffusion through the concrete. This paper presents the determination of the apparent chloride diffusion coefficient of concrete using open-circuit potential measurements. The chloride diffusion coefficients obtained are in the range of 6.4 x 10(-8) to 12.4 x 10(-8) cm(2)/s for a simulated seawater tidal condition, which is quite consistent with those reported in the literature. This indicates that open-circuit potential measurements can be considered as an approximate but simple method of assessing the diffusivity of chloride through concrete. Limited with the testing conditions and the characteristics of concrete used, results indicated that the time necessary for corrosion initiation of concrete with a cover depth of 7 cm ranges from 3 to 6 years for the seawater exposure, whereas it is only 1.5 years for a 3% sodium chloride exposure. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.