To test whether high meat intake is associated with the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in the Uruguayan population, a case-control study was performed at the Instituto Nacional de Oncologia, Montevideo, Uruguay. After controlling for age, sex, residence, education, urban/rural status and the habit of drinking the beverage 'mate', red meat intake was associated with an increased risk of NHL of 2.5. This finding was similar in both sexes separately. Odds ratios (OR) for the highest tertile of barbecued meat was 1.7 among men, whereas salted meat was associated with an increased risk of NHL (OR 4.9, 95% CI 1.4-17.7). The effect of processed and salted meat among women was of much less magnitude and the OR's were non-significant. Also, cumulative exposure to 'mate' drinking displayed an OR of 2.4 (95% CI 1.0-5.6). Smokers of black tobacco and hand-rolled cigarettes were associated with an increased risk of 3.5 (95% 1.1-10.9), whereas beer drinkers showed an increased OR of 5.5 (95% 1.1-26.7) in men. It could be concluded that red or salted meat intake, smoking of black tobacco, and beer and 'mate' drinking are risk factors for NHL in the Uruguayan population.