Demographic and pathologic information on over 1,000 newly diagnosed patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma was obtained from population-based registries in the United States. Age-adjusted incidence rates were similar for whites and blacks and both were significantly lower than for Chinese Americans. Age-related differences in cell type were observed in white NPC patients, lymphoepithelial carcinomas having a younger age distribution than either squamous-cell or transitional-cell carcinomas. Mortality rates for nasopharyngeal cancer were substantially lower than incidence rates for nasopharyngeal carcinoma, but both indices revealed a minor peak in rates among teenaged whites and blacks. The five-year survival rate for nasopharyngeal carcinoma was less than 25% and has not changed in recent years. Prognosis was better for females and for young patients. Despite the difficulties in obtaining uniform pathologic classification in such a large study, the interrelationship between pathologic subtype of nasopharyngeal carcinoma and demographic features emphasizes the need for adherence to a more uniform histologic classification.