This article describes the development of a cancer study among Shanghai textile workers. Due to the organization of work between 1949 and the 1980s, and superior record-keeping practices, it is possible to track textile workers' job tasks and workplace exposures over virtually the entirety of their working lives. The authors' experiences utilized important relationships developed over more than ten years to access work exposures and cancer outcomes. Initial findings indicate a significantly increased risk for breast cancer for women employed in cotton, wool, mixed-fiber, and machine-maintenance sectors. This project is an example of the unique research opportunities to be found in China, and illustrates how these data sources may be lost due to ongoing changes in the Chinese economy.