Discovered in the early 1800s, the use of cadmium and various cadmium salts started to become industrially important near the close of the 19th century, rapidly thereafter began to flourish, yet has diminished more recently. Most cadmium used in the United States is a byproduct from the smelting of zinc, lead, or copper ores, and is used to manufacture batteries. Carcinogenic activity of cadmium was discovered first in animals and only subsequently in humans. Cadmium and cadmium compounds have been classified as known human carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program based on epidemiologic studies showing a causal association with lung cancer, and possibly prostate cancer, and studies in experimental animals, demonstrating that cadmium causes tumors at multiple tissue sites, by various routes of exposure, and in several species and strains. Epidemiologic studies published since these evaluations suggest that cadmium is also associated with cancers of the breast, kidney, pancreas, and urinary bladder. The basic metal cationic portion of cadmium is responsible for both toxic and carcinogenic activity, and the mechanism of carcinogenicity appears to be multifactorial. Available information about the carcinogenicity of cadmium and cadmium compounds is reviewed, evaluated, and discussed.