Exposure to high concentrations of radon progeny (radon) produces lung cancer in both underground miners and experimentally exposed laboratory animals. To determine the risk posed by residential radon exposure, the authors performed a population-based, case-control epidemiologic study in Iowa from 1993 to 1997. Subjects were female Iowa residents who had occupied their current home for at least 20 years. A total of 413 lung cancer cases and 614 age-frequency-matched controls were included in the final analysis. Excess odds were calculated per 11 working-level months for exposures that occurred 5-19 years (WLM(5-19)) prior to diagnosis for cases or prior to time of interview for controls. Eleven WLM(5-19) is approximately equal to an average residential radon exposure of 4 pCl/liter (148 Bq/m3) during this period. After adjustment for age, smoking, and education, the authors found excess odds of 0.50 (95% confidence interval: 0.004, 1.81) and 0.83 (95% percent confidence interval: 0.11, 3.34) using categorical radon exposure estimates for all cases and for live cases, respectively. Slightly lower excess odds of 0.24 (95 percent confidence interval: -0.05, 0.92) and 0.49 (95 percent confidence interval: 0.03, 1.84) per 11 WLM(5-19) were noted for continuous radon exposure estimates for all subjects and live subjects only. The observed risk estimates suggest that cumulative ambient radon exposure presents an important environmental health hazard.