In a case control study in Hong Kong, 445 cases of Chinese female lung cancer patients all confirmed pathologically were compared with 445 Chinese female healthy neighbourhood controls matched for age. The predominant histological type was adenocarcinoma (47.2%). The relative risk (RR) in ever-smokers was 3.81 (P less than 0.001, 95% CI = 2.86, 5.08). The RRs were statistically significantly raised for all major cell types with significant trends between RR and amount of tobacco smoked daily. Among never smoking women, RR for passive smoking due to a smoking husband was 1.65 (P less than 0.01, 95% CI = 1.16, 2.35) with a significant trend between RR and amount smoked daily by the husband. When broken down by cell types, the numbers were substantial only for adenocarcinoma (RR = 2.12, P less than 0.01, 95% CI = 1.32, 3.39) with a significant trend between RR and amount smoked daily by the husband. The results suggest that passive smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer, particularly adenocarcinoma in Hong Kong Chinese women who never smoked.