The relationship between family pesticide use and childhood brain cancer was examined in a case-control study. Telephone interviews were conducted from June 1989 through March 1990 with the natural mothers of 45 childhood brain cancer cases, 85 friend controls, and 108 cancer controls. In comparisons to friend controls, significant positive associations were observed for use of pesticides to control nuisance pests in the home, no-pest-strips in the home, pesticides to control termites, Kwell shampoo, flea collars on pets, diazinon in the garden or orchard, and herbicides to control weeds in the yard. In comparisons to cancer controls, significant positive associations were observed for use of pesticide bombs in the home, pesticides to control termites, flea collars on pets, insecticides in the garden or orchard, carbaryl in the garden or orchard, and herbicides to control weeds in the yard. In general, positive associations in comparisons to one control group were supported by elevated odds ratios in comparisons to the other control group. Several potentially important associations were identified in this study. However, small sample sizes, potential recall bias, multiple comparisons, and lack of detailed exposure verification require further research to confirm these findings.