This article reviews the epidemiology of cancer of the pancreas, both descriptive and analytical, at all times cognizant of the problems of misdiagnosis, particularly underdiagnosis, of this lethal disease that continue to hinder epidemiological studies. Pancreas cancer is consistently reported to occur more frequently in men than in women, in blacks than in whites, and in urban rather than rural population groups. In some countries, the mortality rates continue to rise, whereas in others, declining levels of disease can be seen among members of younger birth cohorts. Although some of these patterns can be explained by variation in pancreas cancer risk factors, many cannot. Analytical studies consistently demonstrate that cigarette smoking increases the risk of cancer of the pancreas, and this appears, at the present time, to be the only clearly demonstrated risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Although the association with disease risk and coffee consumption, alcohol consumption, occupational exposures, diabetes, pancreatitis, and other factors requires clarification, it appears likely that the most fruitful research area in the coming years may involve exploration of pancreatic cancer risk and nutritional practices.