We evaluated the risks of brain cancer in relation to employment history in a case-control study of 312 cases and 1,248 cancer controls. Subjects were identified through the Missouri Cancer Registry for the period 1984 through 1988. Job classification was based on data routinely abstracted from hospital records. Elevated risks were identified for certain white collar occupations: for men employed in engineering, the odds ratio (OR) = 2.1; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.4, 10.3; for social science professionals, the OR = 6.1; 95% CI = 1.5, 26.1. Among occupations with potential exposure to occupational carcinogens, increased risks were observed for men employed in agricultural crop production (OR = 1.5; 95% CI = 1.0, 2.4), printing and publishing (OR = 2.8; 95% CI = 1.0, 8.3), and brickmasons and tilesetters (OR = 2.5; 95% CI = 0.5, 11.5). Most of elevated brain cancer risks were due to astrocytic cancers, but the excess among agricultural workers occurred in other cell types. No increase in risk was noted for current cigarette smokers (OR = 0.9; 95% CI = 0.7, 1.5) or ex-smokers (OR = 1.0; 95% CI = 0.7, 1.5). This exploratory study indicates a need for further studies of occupational risks of brain cancer.