Although obesity is an established risk factor for renal cell carcinoma, the possible effect of central adiposity and long-term variation in weight has yet to be established. The authors studied 140,057 women aged 50-79 years enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative in the United States to examine the role of obesity, especially abdominal obesity, and weight cycling in relation to risk of renal cell carcinoma among postmenopausal women. Cox models were used to estimate relative risks and their corresponding 95% confidence intervals. During an average of 7.7 years of follow-up through September 12, 2005, a total of 269 incident cases of renal cell carcinoma were identified. Central adiposity, as indicated by waist-to-hip ratio, was an important risk factor for developing renal cell carcinoma (highest vs. lowest quartile: relative risk = 1.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.2, 2.5; p for trend = 0.0003). Moreover, women who had experienced weight cycling more than 10 times were at 2.6 times (95% confidence interval: 1.6, 4.2) increased risk compared with women whose weight was stable. Results add evidence that obesity, particularly central adiposity, is associated with an increased risk of renal cell carcinoma among postmenopausal women. Furthermore, they indicate that weight cycling is independently associated with further increased risk of this malignancy.