The effects of four fruit juices, processed vegetable juice, orange peel, green tea and low dose vitamin C on endogenous N-nitrosation in 86 subjects from a high-risk area for gastric cancer in Moping County, China were studied using urinary excretion of N-nitrosoproline (NPRO) as an indicator. After ingestion of 300 mg L-proline, urinary excretion of NPRO was significantly increased from a baseline of 2.5 +/- 1.6 micrograms/day to 8.7 +/- 6.2 micrograms/day. (P < 0.001). Vitamin C (75 mg) administration significantly reduced NPRO formation (62.3%, P < 0.002) although NPRO excretion remained higher than the baseline level (4.2 +/- 1.3 vs 2.2 +/- 1.2 micrograms/day, P < 0.001). Intake of fruit juices and green tea extracts (containing 75 mg vitamin C) or of orange peel powder (containing 3 mg vitamin C) together with 300 mg L-proline inhibited NPRO formation effectively to the baseline level or to levels significantly lower than the baseline level (P < 0.05-0.005). A processed juice of a number of vegetables (300 ml) significantly catalysed endogenous nitrosation (14.7 +/- 11.8 vs 9.4 +/- 4.7 micrograms/day, P < 0.05). Endogenous N-nitrosation was unaffected by the presence of intragastric lesions. The present study shows that endogenous nitrosation in this population is profoundly affected by environmental factors and that inhibitors, such as vitamin C, alpha-tocopherol and other non-nutritive compounds in the foods do inhibit endogenous nitrosation either synergistically or in an additive manner. The significance of fruits and vegetables in prevention of human cancers is discussed.