Lung cancer has been the major cause of cancer death in Hong Kong for more than a decade. Although it is known that some 95% of male cases can be attributed to smoking, the etiological factors in women remain elusive. Among "never-smoked" female cases, increases in attributable risk from passive smoking were limited to only some of the histological types of lung carcinomas, and an overall analysis of all types did not reveal any significant increase in relative risk from this source. Other environmental factors which encourage bronchial irritation are suspected. Methodological differences may explain the differences in proportional distributions of histological lung tumor types noted between previous reports, and the risk values attributed therein to active and passive smoking.