Results of case-control studies and of a prospective investigation in men suggest that consumption of coffee could protect against the risk of Parkinson's disease, but the active constituent is not clear. To address the hypothesis that caffeine is protective against Parkinson's disease, we examined the relationship of coffee and caffeine consumption to the risk of this disease among participants in two ongoing cohorts, the Health Professionals' Follow-Up Study (HPFS) and the Nurses' Health Study (NHS). The study population comprised 47,351 men and 88,565 women who were free of Parkinson's disease, stroke, or cancer at baseline. A comprehensive life style and dietary questionnaire was completed by the participants at baseline and updated every two to four years. During the follow-up (10 years in men, 16 years in women), we documented a total of 288 incident cases of Parkinson's disease. Among men, after adjustment for age and smoking, the relative risk of Parkinson's disease was 0.42 (95% CI: 0.23-0.78; p for trend < 0.001) for men in the top one-fifth of caffeine intake compared to those in the bottom one-fifth. An inverse association was also observed with consumption of coffee (p for trend = 0.004), caffeine from noncoffee sources (p for trend < 0.001), and tea (p for trend = 0.02) but not decaffeinated coffee. Among women, the relationship between caffeine or coffee intake and risk of Parkinson's disease was U-shaped, with the lowest risk observed at moderate intakes (1-3 cups of coffee/day, or the third quintile of caffeine consumption). These results support a possible protective effect of moderate doses of caffeine on risk of Parkinson's disease.