A low mortality from prostatic cancer is found in Japanese men consuming a low-fat diet with high content of soy products, a rich source of isoflavonoids. We therefore assayed four isoflavonoids in plasma of 14 Japanese and 14 Finnish men. The geometric mean plasma total individual isoflavonoid levels were 7 to 110 times higher in the Japanese than in the Finnish men. Genistein, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, occurred in the highest concentration (geometric mean 276 nmol/L). We hypothesise that these high phyto-oestrogen levels may inhibit the growth of prostatic cancer in Japanese men, which may explain the low mortality from prostatic cancer in that country.