A cohort of 4,400 persons treated for various cancers of childhood in France and the UK was followed up over an extended period to assess risks of subsequent brain tumour in relation to the radiotherapy and chemotherapy that the children received for their first cancer. Elevated risks of subsequent brain tumours were associated with first central nervous system (CNS) tumour (two-sided p = 0.0002) and neurofibromatosis (two-sided p = 0.001). There was also elevated brain tumour risk (two-sided p = 0.003) associated with ionising radiation exposure, the risk being concentrated among benign and unspecified brain tumours. The radiation-related risk of benign and unspecified brain tumours was significantly higher than that of malignant brain tumours (two-sided p< or =0.05); there was no significant change of malignant brain tumour risk with ionising radiation dose (two-sided p > 0.2). In general, there were no strong associations between alkylating agent dose and brain tumour risk. The only significant association between brain tumour risk and alkylating agent dose was in relation to compounds used (bleomycin, chloraminophen) that are thought not to deliver substantial doses to the brain; the statistical significance of the trend with dose depended on a single case, and thus must be considered a weak result.