This paper reports the incidence of oesophageal carcinoma in five cancer registries from France and in a further two from the francophone regions of Switzerland. The cancers are segregated into the two main histological types (squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma). In Belgium the proportion of adenocarcinomas is much higher than in any of the French registries. A study of time trends shows no clear trend in overall incidence of oesophageal cancer. There is a trend towards an increasing proportion of adenocarcinomas with time, that is most apparent in Doubs, Dijon and Vaud registries.