The purpose of this study was to investigate the risk factors associated with lung cancer in Hong Kong. Three hundred and thirty-one histologically or cytologically proven consecutive cases of lung cancer and the same number of in- and out-patients without cancer matched for age and sex were recruited for this study using a detailed questionnaire completed by a trained interviewer. Smoking was the most important risk factor associated with lung cancer but the attributable risk (AR) was estimated to be 45.8% in men and 6.2% in women, considerably lower compared with those estimated in early 1980s. In addition, among women, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) at work+/-at home and lack of education, were independent risk factors for lung cancer with adjusted odds ratio (OR) 3.60, (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.52-8.51) and OR 2.41 (95% CI 1.27-4.55), respectively. Among men, exposure to insecticide/pesticide/herbicide, ETS exposure at work or at home, and a family history of lung cancer and were independent risk factors with adjusted OR 3.29 (95% CI 1.22-8.9, OR 2.43, 95% CI 1.24-4.76 and OR 2.37, 95% CI 1.43-3.94, respectively). Exposure to incense burning and frying pan fumes were not significant risk factors in both sexes. A moderate or high consumption of fat in the diet was associated with increased risk in men but decreased risk in women. The results of this study suggested that as the prevalence of smoking declined, the influence of smoking as a risk factor for lung cancer decreased even further. Moreover, the contribution of other environmental, occupational and socioeconomic factors may be more apparent as etiological factors for lung cancer in a population with relatively high lung cancer incidence but low AR from active smoking.