The association between tobacco use and risk of bladder cancer was investigated in a population-based case-control study conducted in Alberta and south-central Ontario, Canada, between 1979 and 1982. In all, 826 histologically-confirmed cancer cases and 792 randomly selected controls, individually matched to cases for age, sex, and area of residence, were recruited into the study. Compared to those who had never smoked cigarettes, males and females who had ever smoked cigarettes had a statistically highly significant 2-fold increase in risk of bladder cancer; for ex-smokers, the risk was intermediate between that for current smokers and never-smokers. There was a dose-dependent increase in risk of bladder cancer with total lifetime cigarette consumption, of similar magnitude for males and females. In males, risk increased with self-reported degree of inhalation in ex-smokers and in current smokers (statistically significant trend), while in females there was no association in current smokers, and a statistically significant inverse association in ex-smokers. Overall, risks of bladder cancer associated with lifetime consumption of plain and filter cigarettes were similar, and there was little evidence to suggest that switching from plain to filter cigarettes was beneficial. Neither passive smoking nor other forms of tobacco consumption (pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco, or snuff) were associated with altered risk of bladder cancer. The population attributable risk for cigarette smoking was about 47% in males and about 33% in females.