Routinely collected data for New South Wales were used to analyse cancer mortality in migrants born in East or Southeast Asia according to duration of residence in Australia. A case-control approach compared deaths from cancer at particular sites with deaths from all other cancers, adjusting for age, sex and calendar period. Compared with the Australian-born, these Asian migrants had a 30-fold higher risk of dying from nasopharyngeal cancer in the first 2 decades of residence, falling to ninefold after 30 years, and for deaths from liver cancer, a 12-fold risk in the first 2 decades, falling to threefold after 30 years. The initial lower risk from colorectal, breast or prostate cancers later converged towards the Australian-born level, the change being apparent in the third decade after migration. The relative risk of dying from lung cancer among these Asian migrants was above unity for each category of duration of stay for women, but at or below unity for men, with no trend in risk over time. An environmental or lifestyle influence for nasopharyngeal and liver cancers is suggested as well as for cancers of colon/rectum, breast and prostate.