Reliability of serum levels of iron, ferritin and nitrite (NO(2)(-)) over a 2-year period were evaluated in 40 healthy women (20 pre-menopausal and 20 post-menopausal), ages 39-65 years, from the New York University Women's Health Study (NYUWHS). Three blood samples per woman collected at yearly intervals were analyzed. Reliability coefficients (RCs) of serum iron, ferritin, and nitrite were 0.03 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0-0.33), 0.90 (95% CI, 0.79-0.95), and 0.72 (95% CI, 0.50-0.86), respectively, for pre-menopausal women, and 0.26 (95% CI, 0-0.56), 0.77 (95% CI, 0.59-0.89), and 0.55 (95% CI, 0.30-0.77), respectively, for post-menopausal women. In a case-control study nested within NYUWHS cohort, serum levels of nitrite, ferritin, and iron were measured in women apparently healthy at the time of blood donation but diagnosed with renal cancer 1.8-12.2 years later (n=24) and in individually matched controls (two per case). The results suggest that high serum levels of ferritin and nitrite may be associated with a decreased risk of renal cancer (odds ratio (OR), 0.55, 95% CI, 0.15-2.01 for ferritin, and OR, 0.52, 95% CI, 0.17-1.60 for nitrite in women with above median level as compared to women with below median level). The possible role of ferritin and nitrite in renal cancer is discussed.