Isothiocyanates, found in cruciferous vegetables, are anticarcinogenic. Racial differences in smoking do not fully account for the African-American excess lung cancer incidence. African Americans consume more cruciferous vegetables than U.S. Whites. Impact on lung cancer risk is unknown. The glutathione S transferase M1 (GSTM1) gene promotes urinary isothiocyanate excretion. We evaluated dietary isothiocyanates and lung cancer using a population-based case-control study of 933 African Americans and Caucasians (non-Hispanic U.S. White) from Los Angeles County, California (311 cases; 622 controls). Broccoli, cauliflower, greens, and cabbage food-frequency variables represented isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates were protective for lung cancer risk. Adjusted odds ratio (OR) for the uppermost quartile > 80 micro mol isothiocyanates/wk, compared to lowest, was 0.65 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.41-1.00, trend P = 0.02]. Association was stronger among subjects with homozygous deletion of GSTM1 (OR = 0.52, 95% CI = 0.31-0.86) than subjects with at least one GSTM1 copy (OR = 0.77, 95% CI = 0.49-1.21). The difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.16). Despite African Americans consuming more cruciferous vegetables, the isothiocyanate association did not vary by race (P = 0.52). Reduced lung cancer risk with higher isothiocyanate intake may be slightly stronger among subjects with deletion of GSTM1.