Glutathione transferases are involved in the detoxification of many zenobiotica involved in the etiology of cancer. To investigate the role of the glutathione S-transferase M1 deletion (GSTM1*0/0) in bladder carcinogenesis, the polymerase chain reaction was used to determine the GSTM1 genotypes of cancer patients (n = 234) and hospital controls (n = 202). Overall, the proportion of GSTM1*0/0 in the case group was 57%, compared to 50% in the control group giving an odds ratio (OR) of 1.33, (0.91-1.94; 95% confidence interval (CI)). Dividing the bladder cancer group into incident (n = 87) and surviving case groups (n = 147), a modest association between the GSTM1*0/0 genotype and bladder cancer was found in the surviving group, whereas, in the incident group no association was found. Logistic regression analysis of the incident cases, adjusting for age, gender, and cigarette smoking, revealed ORs of 1.12 (0.61-2.08) and 0.74 (0.33-1.73) for the malignant and benign tumours, respectively. The corresponding adjusted ORs for the surviving cases were 1.81 (1.04-3.13) for benign and 1.43 (0.80-2.56) for malignant tumours. Thus, in this study, the GSTM1 deletion is not a risk factor for the development of bladder cancer, but may be related to the survival of the bladder cancer patients. This finding is very important for the design of case-control studies in general, and for the interpretation of existing data.