The authors examine weight gains associated with smoking cessation in the Lung Health Study (1986-1994) over a 5-year follow-up period. A cohort of 5,887 male and female smokers in the United States and Canada, aged 35-60 years, were randomized to either smoking intervention or usual care. Among participants who achieved sustained quitting for 5 years, women gained a mean of 5.2 (standard error, 5.0) kg in year 1 and a mean of 3.4 (standard error, 5.5) kg in years 1-5. Men gained a mean of 4.9 (standard error, 4.9) kg in year 1 and a mean of 2.6 (standard error, 5.8) kg in years 1-5. In regression analyses, smoking-change variables were the most potent predictors of weight change. Participants going from smoking to quit-smoking in a given year had mean weight gains of 2.95 kg/year (3.61%) in men and 3.09 kg/year (4.69%) in women. Over 5 years, 33% of sustained quitters gained > or = 10 kg compared with 6% of continuing smokers. Also among sustained quitters, 7.6% of men and 19.1% of women gained > or = 20% of baseline weight; 60% of the gain occurred in year 1, although significant weight gains continued through year 5. The average gains and the high proportions of sustained and intermittent quitters who gained excessive weight suggest the need for more effective early interventions that address both smoking cessation and weight control.