A cohort of 11,580 residents of a retirement community initially free from cancer were followed from 1981 to 1989. A total of 1,335 incident cancer cases were diagnosed during the period. Relative risks of cancer were calculated for baseline consumption of vegetables, fruits, beta-carotene, dietary vitamin C, and vitamin supplements. After adjustment for age and smoking, no evidence of a protective effect was found for any of the dietary variables in men. However, an inverse association was observed between vitamin C supplement use and bladder cancer risk. In women, reduced cancer risks of all sites combined and of the colon were noted for combined intake of all vegetables and fruits, fruit intake alone, and dietary vitamin C. Supplemental use of vitamins A and C showed a protective effect on colon cancer risk in women. There was some suggestion that beta-carotene intake and supplemental use of vitamin A, C, and E were associated with reduced risk of lung cancer in women, but none of these results were statistically significant. These inverse associations observed in women seem to warrant further investigation, although there was inconsistency in results between the sexes.