Genetic polymorphism of the carcinogen metabolizing enzyme N-acetyl transferase 2 (NAT2) may influence susceptibility to bladder cancers related to smoking or to occupational exposure to arylamine carcinogens. This article reviews the results of 21 published case-control studies of NAT2 polymorphism and bladder-cancer risk, with a total of 2700 cases and 3426 controls. The published evidence suggests that NAT2 slow acetylator phenotype or genotype may be associated with a small increase in bladder cancer risk. However, given the possibility of selective publication of results from studies that found an excess risk, the current evidence is not sufficient to conclude that there is a real increase in risk. Only five of the 21 studies reported results separately for the effect of NAT2 on bladder cancer risk in smokers and non-smokers. Although the results suggest that the effect may be greater in smokers than in non-smokers, the possibility of publication bias makes these results difficult to interpret. There was insufficient evidence to assess the joint effect of NAT2 and occupational exposure to arylamines on bladder cancer risk. Even if estimates of the effect of NAT2 from published data are correct, studies with around 3000-5000 cases will be needed to confirm them.