The results from the population-based cancer registry for the city of Ho Chi Minh in 1995-1996 represent the first information on the incidence of cancer in southern Viet Nam. A total of 4,080 cancer cases in males and 4,338 in females were registered, corresponding to age-standardized incidence rates (ASRs) of 130.9 per 100,000 in men and 100.7 per 100,000 in women. As elsewhere in South East Asia, the principal cancer of men was liver cancer (ASR 25.3), with moderately high rates of lung cancer (ASR 24.6) and stomach cancer (ASR 16.5); cancer of the penis, reportedly very common in early case series from Viet Nam, is now rarely seen. In women, cervical cancer was the dominant malignancy (ASR 26.0) followed by breast cancer (ASR 12.2) and stomach cancer (ASR 7.5). Although there may be some under-registration in these early years of operation, the recorded rates of cervical cancer and liver cancer are already high and suggest that southern Viet Nam would benefit from an effective cervical cancer screening programme, as well as efforts to interrupt the transmission of hepatitis B virus to reduce liver cancer incidence and effective anti-smoking programs.