It is unclear whether body mass index (BMI) and physical activity are associated with the risk of pancreatic cancer in Asian populations. We examined these associations in the Japanese Collaborative Cohort Study for Evaluation of Cancer Risk. Our cohort study included 110,792 Japanese men and women at enrollment (1988-1990). Data on height, body weight (at baseline and at age 20 years) and physical activity were obtained from a questionnaire. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the relative risks of pancreatic cancer mortality. We observed a total of 402 pancreatic cancer deaths during the follow-up period. Men with a BMI of 30 or more at age 20 years had a 3.5-fold greater risk compared with men with a normal BMI. Women with a BMI of 27.5-29.9 at baseline had approximately 60% increased risk compared with women with a BMI of 20.0-22.4. In men, weight loss of 5 kg or more between 20 years of age and baseline age was associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer death. In contrast, women with weight loss of 5 kg or more over the same period had a decreased risk. Physical activity was not associated with pancreatic cancer risk in either men or women. Obesity in young adulthood may be associated with an increased risk of death from pancreatic cancer in Japanese men. The risk of pancreatic cancer in relation to BMI seems to differ according to sex and the period over which BMI was measured.