A total of 9440 Australian men and women of over 15 years of age was interviewed at home in 1986 to determine the prevalence and consumption levels of tobacco products. Current smokers were defined as those who smoked any combination of cigarettes, cigars or pipes regularly. The percentage of current smokers among men was 32.9% and among women was 28.5%, and the peak prevalence of smoking was in the age-group 20-24 years for both men (40.5%) and women (40.8%). Among men, 27.7% were past smokers, and among women, 16.5% were past smokers. The proportion of past smokers among those who had ever smoked was higher in men (0.46) than among women (0.37), but in the younger age groups there was no relative excess among men. Male smokers consumed more cigarettes per day than did female smokers and men were exposed to a higher daily average amount of cigarette tar. Sociodemographic variables that were associated with smoking in both men and women included age and educational and occupational level. Asian-born persons had a significantly lower prevalence of smoking than did persons who were born in Australia.