The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship of long-term concentrations of ambient air pollutants and risk of incident lung cancer in nonsmoking California adults. A cohort study of 6,338 nonsmoking, non-Hispanic, white Californian adults, ages 27-95, was followed from 1977 to 1992 for newly diagnosed cancers. Monthly ambient air pollution data were interpolated to zip code centroids according to home and work location histories, cumulated, and then averaged over time. The increased relative risk (RR) of incident lung cancer in males associated with an interquartile range (IQR) increase in 100 ppb ozone (O3) was 3.56 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.35-9.42]. Incident lung cancer in males was also positively associated with IQR increases for mean concentrations of particulate matter <10 microm (PM10; RR = 5.21; CI, 1.94-13.99) and SO2 (RR = 2.66; CI, 1.62-4.39). For females, incident lung cancer was positively associated with IQR increases for SO2 (RR = 2.14; CI, 1.36-3.37) and IQR increases for PM10 exceedance frequencies of 50 microg/m3 (RR = 1.21; CI, 0.55-2.66) and 60 microg/m3 (RR = 1.25; CI, 0.57-2.71). Increased risks of incident lung cancer were associated with elevated long-term ambient concentrations of PM10 and SO2 in both genders and with O3 in males. The gender differences for the O3 and PM10 results appeared to be partially due to gender differences in exposure.