TP53 and BRCA2 are frequently mutated in cancer and polymorphisms of these genes may modify cancer risk. We used SSCP and DNA sequencing to assess and compare frequencies of R72P (TP53) and 5'UTR203G>A, N372H, and K1132K (BRCA2) polymorphisms in healthy Chinese subjects at varying risk for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and in ESCC patients. Suggestive overall differences in the distributions of genotypes by risk groups were seen for all genotypes except K1132K. Differences in R72P and N372H were most likely a reflection of lack of Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE), however, the difference in 203G>A was due to low prevalence of GG in ESCC patients (0.22 versus 0.36 in high risk group (P=0.047), and 0.22 versus 0.40 in low risk group (P=0.010)), consistent with a disease association. These data suggest that the 203G>A polymorphism in BRCA2 may be associated with risk of ESCC.