A 15-Country collaborative cohort study was conducted to provide direct estimates of cancer risk following protracted low doses of ionizing radiation. Analyses included 407,391 nuclear industry workers monitored individually for external radiation and 5.2 million person-years of follow-up. A significant association was seen between radiation dose and all-cause mortality [excess relative risk (ERR) 0.42 per Sv, 90% CI 0.07, 0.79; 18,993 deaths]. This was mainly attributable to a dose-related increase in all cancer mortality (ERR/Sv 0.97, 90% CI 0.28, 1.77; 5233 deaths). Among 31 specific types of malignancies studied, a significant association was found for lung cancer (ERR/Sv 1.86, 90% CI 0.49, 3.63; 1457 deaths) and a borderline significant (P = 0.06) association for multiple myeloma (ERR/Sv 6.15, 90% CI <0, 20.6; 83 deaths) and ill-defined and secondary cancers (ERR/Sv 1.96, 90% CI -0.26, 5.90; 328 deaths). Stratification on duration of employment had a large effect on the ERR/Sv, reflecting a strong healthy worker survivor effect in these cohorts. This is the largest analytical epidemiological study of the effects of low-dose protracted exposures to ionizing radiation to date. Further studies will be important to better assess the role of tobacco and other occupational exposures in our risk estimates.