Risk factors for pancreatic cancer were evaluated in a cohort study of 17,633 White men in the United States who responded to a mailed questionnaire in 1966 and were followed-up through 1986 for mortality. Cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption were found to be important risk factors for pancreatic cancer. Risks increased significantly with number of cigarettes smoked, reaching fourfold for smokers of 25 or more cigarettes per day relative to nonsmokers. Alcohol intake also was related significantly to risk, with consumers of 10 or more drinks per month having three times the risk of nondrinkers, but dose-response trends among drinkers were not smooth. Coffee consumption was unrelated to risk. Dietary analyses revealed a rising rate of pancreatic cancer mortality with increasing consumption of meat after adjustment for other risk factors. Men in the highest quartile of meat intake had about three times the risk of those in the lowest quartile. No consistent association, however, was observed for consumption of fruits, vegetables, or grains. This study confirms cigarette smoking as an important risk factor for pancreatic cancer, and provides evidence that elevated intake of alcohol and meat may increase the risk of this fatal malignancy.