Cancer of the pancreas has been rising in incidence in Shanghai, China since the early 1970s. In 1987-89, this malignancy ranked eighth in cancer incidence among men and ninth among women in Shanghai. To examine risk factors for this tumor in urban Shanghai, a population-based case-control study was conducted. Cases (n = 451) were permanent residents of Shanghai, 30 to 74 years of age, newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer between 1 October 1990 and 30 June 1993. Deceased cases (19 percent) were excluded from the study. Controls (n = 1,552) were selected among Shanghai residents, frequency-matched to cases by gender and age. Cases and controls were interviewed about their demographic background and potential risk factors, including tobacco, alcohol and beverage consumption, diet, and medical history. Adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95 percent confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using logistic regression models. Current cigarette smoking was associated with excess risk of pancreatic cancer in both men (OR = 1.6, CI = 1.1-2.2) and women (OR = 1.4, CI = 0.9-2.4). ORs increased significantly with number of cigarettes smoked per day, and with duration and pack-years of smoking. Risk increased three- to sixfold among those in the highest categories of cigarette consumption, while risk decreased with increasing years since smoking cessation. Former smokers who stopped smoking for 10 or more years had risks comparable to nonsmokers.