The International Agency for Research on Cancer has coordinated a worldwide study of the incidence of cancer in childhood. Contributors from over 50 countries have provided data. This paper presents a summary of some of the major results. The incidence rates and relative frequencies of childhood cancers are described according to 12 diagnostic groups, defined mainly in terms of tumour morphology. Variations in the risk of those tumours between different countries and different ethnic groups provide important information on the relative importance of environmental and genetic factors in their aetiology.