A high mortality rate for lung cancer (62.7 per 100,000) is found in Rosario, Argentina. To investigate the reasons for this high rate, a case-control study was carried out among 215 male cases with histologically confirmed lung cancer and 433 hospitalized controls for conditions unrelated to tobacco consumption. Odds ratios (OR) of squamous cell (SQ), adenocarcinoma (AD), and small cell (SM) carcinoma of the lung associated with different characteristics of the smoking habit were quantified. Ninety-eight percent of the cases had smoked regularly. Smokers were significantly younger at diagnosis than ex-smokers (P < 0.0001), a pattern consistent for all cell types. The ORs for the heaviest cf the lowest consumption categories were 15.3 for SQ, 11.6 for AD, and 11.6 for all lung cancer (P < 0.0001). Risks associated with the use of unfiltered cigarettes were three to five times higher than those for filtered cigarettes, depending on cell types. For ex-smokers, risks after 10 years of nonsmoking were about 12 times lower than those of current smokers (P < 0.001). To halt further increases in lung cancer, preventive measures in Argentina should be directed primarily towards smoking control.