The association between occupational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and bladder cancer development was investigated in a population-based case-control study carried out in the Bormida valley, Italy. One hundred and twenty-one male cases and 342 male controls, matched age, were collected from local hospitals. Occupational exposure to PAH and aromatic amines (AA) was evaluated by means of a job exposure matrix, constructed specifically for this study. Subjects considered as sharing a "definite exposure to PAH" showed an increased risk even after adjustment for cigarette smoking and exposure to AA (OR = 2.14, 95% CL 0.82-5.60). No elevation in risk was found for the category "possible exposure to PAH" (OR = 1.05, 95% CL 0.45-2.44). The findings of this study are consistent with previous studies indicating PAH as a risk factor for bladder cancer. A possible residual confounding effect due to AA impurities is discussed.