Serum oestrone (E1), oestradiol (E2) and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels were studied in postmenopausal Japanese women in Japan (n = 91) and postmenopausal American white women (n = 38). The Japanese women were deliberately chosen to be from a rural agricultural area in order to get samples which represent as closely as possible the traditional Japanese 'lifestyle' that gave rise to the low rates of breast cancer in Japan. E1 levels were 47%, and E2 levels 36%, greater in the American women; these differences were only reduced to 43% and 27% after adjustment for the lower weight of the Japanese. These results were all statistically highly significant. There was little difference in SHBG levels between the Japanese and the American women. These results for E1 and E2 could be an important part of the explanation why Japanese and American breast cancer rates continue to diverge further after the menopause.