The A-G polymorphism at codon 104 in the glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1) gene was examined in 138 male lung cancer patients and 297 healthy controls. The patients had significantly higher frequency of the GG genotype (15.9%) and a lower frequency of AA (38.4%) than the controls (9.1% and 51.5%, respectively). The level of hydrophobic DNA-adducts were determined in lung tissue from 70 current smokers. Patients with the GG genotype had a significantly higher adduct level than patients with AA (15.5 +/- 10.2 vs 7.9 +/- 5.1 per 10(8) nucleotides, P = 0.006). We also analyzed the deletion polymorphism in the GSTM1 gene in 135 male patients and 342 controls. The patients were stratified according to histology, smoking dose, age, adduct level and mutational types found in the tumors (Ki-ras and p53 genes). The results consistently indicated that the GSTM1 null genotype was associated with a slightly increased lung cancer risk. When the combined GST M1 and P1 genotypes were examined, patients with the combination null and AG or GG had significantly higher adduct levels than all other genotype combinations (P = 0.011). The distribution of combined genotypes was also significantly different in cases and controls, mainly due to increased frequency of the combination GSTM1 null and GSTP1 AG or GG among patients.