This review examines the hypothesis that excess lung cancer risk in worker cohorts exposed to asbestos occurs only among those with asbestosis. The adequately designed studies in the literature support this hypothesis. The summary relative risk for lung cancer was 1.00 in seven cohorts with no deaths from asbestosis. In addition, there is a high correlation between asbestosis rates and lung cancer rates in 38 cohorts in contrast to a poor correlation between cumulative exposure data and lung cancer relative risks in eight cohorts with adequate data. The evidence indicates that asbestosis is a much better predictor of excess lung cancer risk than measures of exposure and serves as a marker for attributable cases.