We evaluated the hypothesis that smoking increases the incidence of and mortality from prostate cancer. High-quality smoking information was collected in 1971-1975 in a nation-wide cohort of 135,006 male construction workers in Sweden. We achieved virtually complete follow-up through record linkages and ascertained as of December 1991 2,368 incident cases of prostate cancer and 709 deaths due to this disease. Rate ratios (RR) of prostate cancer incidence and mortality, with 95% confidence intervals (CI), were estimated in Poisson-based age-adjusted models, with amount and duration of smoking as independent variables. We found no convincing association between current smoking status, number of cigarettes smoked or years since onset and risk of prostatic cancer. The age-adjusted incidence RR among previous smokers was 1.09 and among current smokers 1.11 compared with non-smokers. Weak and inconsistent trends were seen with increasing number of cigarettes smoked per day and increasing duration among current smokers. Smokers of 15 or more cigarettes daily for at least 30 years experienced an incidence RR of 1.30. Mortality in ex-smokers was similar to that in never-smokers; it was, however, slightly increased among current smokers without any trend with amount smoked or duration. The weak and inconsistent associations between smoking and prostate cancer could easily have arisen due to bias or confounding. We therefore conclude that smoking is most likely not causally linked to the occurrence of prostate cancer.