The mortality of forest conservationists and soil conservationists in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) who died during January 1, 1970-December 31, 1979 (N = 1,411 white males) while actively employed or while receiving a pension was evaluated. The proportionate mortality analysis was used to identify cancers that might be elevated in this occupational group compared to the total U.S. white male population, whereas case-control analyses more rigorously evaluated the disease association with occupation. Controls were selected from employees at USDA who died of any cause of death other than that cause of death represented by the case. In case-control analyses, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and colon cancer demonstrated a statistically significant linear trend (p less than .05) with duration of employment as either a forest or soil conservationist, which suggests an occupational etiology for both diseases. Soil conservationists who were last employed after 1960 experienced significantly elevated risks for NHL (OR = 2.6) and colon cancer (OR = 1.8), whereas those last employed before 1960 were not at an increased risk. Among forest conservationists, the risk for both NHL and colon cancer appeared to be elevated before and after 1960.