Glutathione S-Transferases (GSTs) are a family of phase II enzymes involved in the detoxification of potential carcinogens and provided of a strong antioxidant function by neutralizing electrophiles and free radicals. The GSTM1 and GSTT1 isoenzymes exhibit deletion polymorphisms, resulting in a lack of activity, and the null genotypes have been associated with increased cancer risk at several sites, including the stomach, although with contrasting results. We carried out a case-control study to evaluate whether these polymorphisms modulate the risk of developing gastric cancer (GC). Genotypes for GSTM1 and GSTT1 were obtained from a series of 175 histologically confirmed GC patients and a large series of 546 healthy controls randomly sampled from the general population of Tuscany, an area at high GC risk. No difference in the frequency of GSTM1 null genotype was observed between cases and controls, whereas the GSTT1 null genotype was more frequent among cases (p = 0.04). Multivariate single-gene analyses adjusted for possible confounders showed that the GSTT1 null genotype, but not the GSTM1 null genotype, was associated with an increased GC risk. Combined-genotype analyses showed a significantly increased GC risk only for the double null (GSTM1-GSTT1) genotype (OR = 2.27; 95% CI: 1.14-4.53). A statistically significant positive interaction between the 2 null genotypes was observed (p = 0.02). Our findings suggest that only subjects lacking both GSTM1 and GSTT1 activity are at increased GC risk. This study provides further support to the hypothesis that the risk of developing GC is influenced by inter-individual variation in both carcinogen detoxification and antioxidant capacity. (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.