The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between educational level and mortality from cancer in the city of Barcelona. The data were derived from a record linkage between the Barcelona Mortality Registry and the Municipal Census. The relative risks (RR) of death and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) according to level of education were derived from Poisson regression models. For all malignancies, men in the lowest educational level had a RR of death of 1.21 (95% CI 1.13-1.29) compared with men with a university degree, whereas for women a significant decreasing in risk was observed (RR 0.81; 95% CI 0.74-0.90). Among men, significant negative trends of increasing risk according to level of education were present for cancer of the mouth and pharynx (RR 1.70 for lowest vs. highest level of education), oesophagus (RR 2.14), stomach (RR 1.99), larynx (RR 2.56) and lung (RR 1.35). Among women, cervical cancer was negatively related to education (RR 2.62), whereas a positive trend was present for cancers of the colon (RR 0.76), pancreas (RR 0.59), lung (RR 0.55) and breast (RR 0.65). The present study confirms for the first time, at an individual level, the existence of socioeconomic differences in mortality for several cancer sites in Barcelona, Spain. There is a need to implement health programmes and public health policies to reduce these inequities.