Attributable risks (ARs) for bladder cancer were computed in relationship to cigarette smoking, coffee consumption, low intake of vegetables, history of cystitis, and occupation using data from a case-control study conducted in northern Italy between 1985 and 1993. Cases were 431 patients with histologically confirmed bladder cancer, and controls were 491 patients admitted to the same network of hospitals for acute, nonneoplastic, and non-urinary-tract diseases. Overall, the AR estimates were 49% for cigarette smoking, 23% for coffee consumption, 16% for low intake of vegetables, 12% for history of cystitis, and 4% for occupation. These five factors together explained more than 70% of bladder cancer cases in this population. The AR for cigarette smoking was significantly higher among men (56%) than women (17%), whereas coffee consumption, low vegetable intake, and cystitis were more important (but not significantly so) among women. These results suggest that more than 2500 of the 5400 deaths due to bladder cancer in Italy in 1990 could have been prevented by the elimination of cigarette smoking. With some appropriate dietary modification and intervention to prevent urinary tract infections and occupational exposures, this figure could approach 4000 avoidable deaths. Thus, bladder cancer could become a rare cause of death in this population.