This study investigated whether aflatoxin contamination of peanut products may contribute to the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in Sudan. Thirty-seven peanut butter and peanut samples were collected from local markets. Aflatoxin concentrations were significantly higher in West Sudan [87.4 +/- 197.3 (SD) micrograms/kg], a high-risk area, than in Central Sudan (8.5 +/- 6.8 micrograms/kg), a low-risk area. In West Sudan, humid local storage conditions of peanut products were related to high aflatoxin concentrations. In a small case-control study of HCC patients (n = 24) and controls (n = 34), an odds ratio of 7.5 (95% confidence interval = 1.4-40.2) was observed for humid vs. dry local storage conditions. Development of an index of individual HCC exposure was less successful, probably because of year-to-year variability in aflatoxins in food. These preliminary findings justify further research into the role of aflatoxins and hepatitis in HCC incidence in Sudan.