The aim of this study is to assess the relationship between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and lung cancer in non-smokers, a case-control study among lifetime non-smokers was conducted in Chandigarh, India. Cases consisted of 58 non-smoking histologically confirmed lung cancer patients; two controls for each case were selected, one among other patients admitted to the wards and one among the visitors to hospital patients. Subjects were asked about ETS exposure from different tobacco products in childhood and in adulthood at home, at the work place and in vehicles. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to assess the effects of the ETS exposure variables on lung cancer. Exposure to ETS during childhood was strongly associated with lung cancer (odds ratio (OR) = 3.9; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.9-8.2), the effect mostly arising from exposure to cigarettes smoke. The excess risk was observed with either a smoking father or mother. An increasing risk was found with increasing number of smokers and duration of exposure. Restricting the analysis to women produced higher estimates of the risk. No increased risk was found with exposure to a smoking spouse, except for those exposed only to cigarette smoke (OR = 5.1; 95% CI = 1.5-17). A weak association was seen between lung cancer and ETS exposure at the workplace, which increased with the number of years of exposure. Exposure in vehicles also was detected as a risk factor for lung cancer in non-smokers. This study suggests that ETS exposure may be a strong risk factor for lung cancer also in India, a country with low prevalence of smoking and, therefore, low rates of lung cancer. Other studies need to be conducted in similar settings to confirm the role played by ETS exposure early in life in the causation of lung cancer.