Possible associations between paternal exposures and cardiovascular malformations were evaluated in the Baltimore-Washington Infant Study, a population based case-control investigation of congenital heart disease and environmental factors. Home interviews of case and control parents elicited information on parental home and occupational exposures. Analysis focused on twelve cardiac diagnostic groups and paternal exposures incurred during the six months preceding the pregnancy. Associations were identified between jewelry making and atrial septal defect (Odds ratio: 12.6; 95% confidence interval: 2.3-68.6) and membranous ventricular septal defect (8.1; 2.0-33.3), welding and endocardial cushion defect with Down syndrome (1.8; 1.1-3.0), lead soldering and pulmonary atresia (2.3; 1.1-4.9) and ionizing radiation and endocardial cushion defect without Down syndrome (4.7; 1.7-12.6). Ionizing radiation was found to be associated with endocardial cushion defect with Down syndrome only when father was present at interview (5.6; 1.7-17.9); a similar effect of father at interview was noted for paint stripping in relation to coarctation of the aorta (3.5; 1.5-8.0) and muscular ventricular septal defect (3.5; 1.5-8.5). Also, paint stripping was associated with hypoplastic left heart only in the presence of family history of cardiac defects (11.9; 2.4-60.0). This large study on cardiac diagnostic groups and specific preconceptional exposures provides new leads for further assessment of the role of paternal exposures on adverse pregnancy outcome.