Current national data indicate that a greater percentage of women entering their fifth and sixth decades of life are current, as opposed to former, smokers, while for men the opposite pattern is present. A representative sample of 1876 men and women aged 50 to 65 years living in a northern California community were interviewed to examine factors related to gender differences in quit rates in this age group. In this well-educated community, a significantly greater percentage of women (25.6%) continued to smoke relative to men (18.6%), with a greater percentage of men reporting being former smokers. Multivariate analysis revealed educational level and marital status, rather than gender, to be significant, Independent factors associated both with current cigarette use and with successful quitting. Our data indicate that it is not being female per se, but rather the disparities in educational level and marital status that are linked with being an older woman, that are associated with continued smoking in this age group. In light of this, delivery of relevant information and support on the part of physicians and other health professionals may be of particular use to this population segment.