A number of authors have presented evidence that high dietary fat increases the risk of breast cancer, and a number have presented evidence to the contrary. In this study, dietary histories were obtained in 1980 from 18,586 postmenopausal women in New York State. These women were followed through 1987 to ascertain their incidence of breast cancer and other cancers and deaths from all causes, as registered in the New York State Tumor Registry and Office of Vital Statistics. Survival analysis revealed that the incidence of breast cancer increased with age, was higher among the nulliparous, was higher for those with a late (> 26 years) age at first pregnancy, and increased with increasing socioeconomic status--all risk factors discovered before for breast cancer. No increase in risk was related to the ingested amount of calories, vitamins A, C, or E, dietary fiber, or fat. Although dietary fat has been found to be associated with higher risk of cancer at a number of other sites, e.g., the lung, colon, and rectum, and although some previous writers have suggested an association with risk of breast cancer, the findings in three cohort studies as well as in eight substantial case-control studies are negative and suggest that a relation is far from established.