Acetyltransferases, encoded by the NAT1 and NAT2 genes, are involved in the activation/inactivation reactions of numerous xenobiotics, including tobacco-derived aromatic amine carcinogens. Several allelic variants of NAT1 and NAT2, which cause variations in acetylation capacity, have been detected. The NAT2 slow acetylator phenotype/genotype has been inconsistently associated with lung cancer and, to date, the role of NAT1 polymorphism in lung cancer has not been reported. The effect of NAT1 and NAT2 genetic polymorphisms on individual lung cancer risk was evaluated among 150 lung cancer patients and 172 control individuals, all French Caucasian smokers. The NAT1 alleles (*3, *4, *10, *11, *14, and *15) and the NAT2 alleles (*4, *5, *6, *7) were differentiated by polymerase chain reaction-based restriction fragment length polymorphism methods using DNA extracted from peripheral white blood cells. Genotypes were classified according to current knowledge of the functional activity of the variant alleles. The NAT1*10 and NAT1*11 alleles were considered as rapid alleles, the NAT1*4 and the NAT1*3 as normal alleles and NAT1*14 and NAT1*15 as slow-acetylation alleles. Logistic regression analyses were performed taking into account the age, sex, smoking and occupational exposures. A significant association was observed between lung cancer and NAT1 genotypes (P(homogeneity) < 0.02) with a gene dose effect (P(trend) < 0.01); compared with homozygous rapid acetylators, the lung cancer risk was 4.0 (95% confidence interval 0.8-19.6) for heterozygous rapid acetylators, 6.4 (95% confidence interval 1.4-30.5) for homozygous normal acetylators and 11.7 (95% confidence interval 1.3-106.5) for heterozygous slow acetylators. None of the individuals were homozygous slow acetylators. Similar results were obtained whatever the adjustment considered. No significant association was found between NAT2 genotype and lung cancer. The NAT1 polymorphism may thus be an important modifier of individual susceptibility to smoking-induced lung cancer.