A telephone survey of a random sample of Rhode Island women ages 40 and older residing in minority low-income census tracts--census tracts in the lowest quartile of a variety of socioeconomic indicators in which at least 5 percent of the population was classified as Hispanic or non-Hispanic black--was conducted in 1991, focusing on breast cancer screening. Hispanic women were found to have about half the breast cancer screening rate (20 percent, according to current screening guidelines) of other respondents (37 percent). Determinants of screening were explored to suggest reasons for this difference. The Health Belief Model was used to identify and compare determinants of breast cancer screening (sociodemographics, health care utilization, perceived susceptibility to breast cancer, perceived seriousness of breast cancer, cues to screening such as a provider's recommendation, and the perceived benefits and costs of screening) among Hispanics, non-Hispanic whites, and non-Hispanic blacks. Hispanics were younger, less educated, and had lower family incomes than other women residing in minority low-income census tracts, were less likely to receive medical care, to perceive themselves as susceptible to breast cancer, and to perceive breast cancer as curable. Logistic regression analyses revealed the importance of use of health care, cues for screening, and perceptions of mammography to explain the screening behavior of Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike. Access to medical care is a significant problem in the Rhode Island Hispanic community, related to recent immigration, undocumented immigration, and low income characteristics of its members. Efforts to increase long-term screening for breast cancer in this community should focus on access while paying attention to its unique perceptions of breast cancer.