Esophageal cancer is one of the most fatal cancers worldwide and is characterized by great variation in rates among different populations. Linxian, a county in Henan Province, located in north-central China, has one of the highest rates of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in the world. Most squamous cell carcinomas in low-risk populations are attributable to alcohol and tobacco consumption, but the causative agents in high-risk populations are less clear. The prevention and treatment of esophageal cancer in high-risk regions, such as Linxian, are limited by our inability to identify these agent(s). During a preliminary histological review, the authors noticed characteristic findings in the arteries, nerves, and lymph nodes of esophagectomy specimens from Linxian and wondered whether these findings might offer clues to the cause of squamous cell carcinoma (eg, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure) in the Linxian population. The purpose of this study was to report these previously undescribed histopathologic changes and to compare their presence and severity with those found in esophageal squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas from a lower-risk population in the United States. Forty esophagectomies were reviewed, including 13 squamous cell carcinomas from Linxian and 21 squamous cell carcinomas and six adenocarcinomas from the United States. The presence and severity of arteriosclerosis and myxoid degeneration of nerves and the presence of anthracosis in periesophageal lymph nodes were recorded. The prevalence and severity of these findings in the three groups of esophagectomies were compared. The esophageal squamous cell carcinomas from Linxian, China, had a higher prevalence of arteriosclerotic vessels, nerves with myxoid degeneration, and anthracotic lymph nodes than the squamous cell carcinomas from the United States (Wilcoxon test, P < .04 for all comparisons). There were also significant differences in the prevalence of arteriosclerotic vessels and anthracotic lymph nodes between the esophageal squamous cell carcinomas from Linxian and the adenocarcinomas from the United States. Arteriosclerosis and the myxoid degeneration were significantly more severe in the esophageal squamous cell carcinomas from Linxian than in the esophageal squamous cell carcinomas or adenocarcinomas from the United States (Mantel trend test, P < .006 for all comparisons). Arteriosclerotic vessels, nerves with myxoid degeneration, and anthracotic lymph nodes can be seen in association with esophageal squamous cell carcinomas from the high-risk region of Linxian, China. These changes appear to be more prevalent and severe than those seen in association with esophageal squamous cell carcinomas or adenocarcinomas from a low-risk population in the United States. These characteristic changes may be causatively significant and may represent histological evidence of high-level environmental exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.