The LET-RBE spectra for cell killing for cultured mammalian cells exposed to accelerated heavy ions were investigated to design a spread-out Bragg peak beam for cancer therapy at HIMAC, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Chiba, prior to clinical trials. Cells that originated from a human salivary gland tumor (HSG cells) as well as V79 and T1 cells were exposed to (3)He-, (12)C- and (20)Ne-ion beams with an LET ranging from approximately 20-600 keV/micrometer under both aerobic and hypoxic conditions. Cell survival curves were fitted by equations from the linear-quadratic model and the target model to obtain survival parameters. RBE, OER, alpha and D(0) were analyzed as a function of LET. The RBE increased with LET, reaching a maximum at around 200 keV/micrometer, then decreased with a further increase in LET. Clear splits of the LET-RBE or -OER spectra were found among ion species and/or cell lines. At a given LET, the RBE value for (3)He ions was higher than that for the other ions. The position of the maximum RBE shifts to higher LET values for heavier ions. The OER value was 3 for X rays but started to decrease at an LET of around 50 keV/micrometer, passed below 2 at around 100 keV/micrometer, and then reached a minimum above 300 keV/micrometer, but the values remained greater than 1. The OER was significantly lower for (3)He ions than the others.