We conducted a case-control study of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) in Tunisia, on diet, dietary patterns and life style, the characteristics of which had been defined by an anthropological study. Eighty incident cases, diagnosed in Tunisia between November 1986 and November 1987, were each matched for sex, age and place of residence to 2 controls. The subjects were asked for dietary data referring to the year preceding the diagnosis of NPC and, with help of their families, during childhood and after weaning. After adjustment for an empirical living conditions score, the following food items were found to be associated with an increased risk for NPC: preserved spiced meat (quaddid), basic stewing preparation (mixture of red and black pepper, garlic, oil, caraway and coriander), and harissa (red pepper, olive oil, garlic, caraway, salt) taken with bread as a snack during childhood and youth. Moreover, subjects who had been directly weaned from mother's milk on to an adult diet were found to be at higher risk for NPC.