Breast cancer incidence in Japanese-American women is approaching that of US Whites. We investigated whether this shift is paralleled by similar post-menopausal plasma hormone levels in the two ethnic groups. We also included African-American and Latina women to further our understanding of possible ethnic differences in oestrogen metabolism. We measured androstenedione (A), oestrone (E1) and oestradiol (E2) in 30 Japanese-American, 39 non-Latina White ('White'), 66 African-American and 58 Latina women. The (age-adjusted) geometric mean E1 levels were 34 pg ml(-1) in Japanese-Americans, 28 pg ml(-1) in Whites, 35 pg ml(-1) in African-Americans and 31 pg ml(-1) in Latinas. After adjustment for body mass index, Japanese-Americans had the highest mean E1 value of all groups and this was statistically significantly greater than the value for Whites (P(t-test) = 0.05). The geometric mean A concentrations were also highest in Japanese-Americans. There was little ethnic difference in E2 levels. In conclusion, post-menopausal plasma oestrogen levels in Japanese-American women are at least as high as those in Whites.