Employing HPLC fluorometry, gas-liquid chromatography (GLC) and a novel enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) based on a monoclonal antibody, 40 corn samples, each collected in 1993 from agricultural stocks for human consumption in Haimen (Jiangsu County) and Penlai (Shandong Province), high- and low-risk areas for primary liver cancer (PLC) in China, respectively, were analysed for fumonisins (FBs), aflatoxins (AFs) and trichothecenes. Levels and positive rates of FBs and deoxynivalenol (DON) were significantly higher in Haimen than in Penlai. ELISA of the 40 corn samples harvested in the two areas in 1994 revealed that FB contamination levels and rates in these areas were comparable to those observed in 1993 in Haimen. ELISA analysis of 1993 and 1994 products revealed a wide occurrence of AFB1 but the positive rates as well as levels were not significantly different between these areas. ELISA of the same sample number of corn harvested in 1995 revealed that FB contamination in Haimen was significantly higher than in Penlai. These 3-yearly surveys of corn samples (240 in total) demonstrated that corn harvested in Haimen was highly contaminated with FBs and that the contamination level, as well as positive rate in 1993 and 1995, were 10-50-fold higher than those in Penlai, suggesting FBs as a risk factor for promotion of PLC in endemic areas, along with the trichothecene DON. Co-contamination with AFs, potent hepatocarcinogens, was assumed to play an important role in the initiation of hepatocarcinogenesis.