To evaluate interactions between lifestyle factors and glutathione-S-transferases M1 (GSTM1) and GSTT1 genotypes with reference to development of esophageal and stomach cancers, we conducted a case-control study of 141 cases of esophageal cancer, 153 cases of stomach cancer and 223 population-based controls in Huaian City of Jiangsu Province, China. GSTM1 and GSTT1 genotypes were identified by multiplex polymerase chain reaction. The GSTM1 null genotype was associated with an increased odds ratio for esophageal cancer (2.17, 95% confidence interval=1.35-3.50), but not for stomach cancer. A combined effect was also observed between smoking and the GSTM1 null genotype with regard to esophageal risk. Tea drinking was a protective factor for both cancers, its effect being independent of the GSTT1 and GSTM1 genotypes. These findings suggest the GSTM1 polymorphism is involved in the susceptibility to esophageal cancer development, and tea consumption reduces the risk of esophageal and stomach cancers.