From 1982 to 1984, the authors conducted a population-based case-control study of lung cancer in men and women nonsmokers in New York State. In-person interviews were completed for 437 lung cancer cases (197 never smokers, 240 former smokers) and 437 matched population controls. Cases and controls were asked to report any history of physician-diagnosed nonmalignant lung disease; cases were more likely than controls to report such a history. Statistically significant associations were found for emphysema (odds ratio (OR) = 1.94, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.10-3.43), chronic bronchitis (OR = 1.73, 95% CI 1.10-2.72), and the combined endpoint of emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or asthma (OR = 1.82, 95% CI 1.26-2.63). After adjustment for active and passive tobacco smoke exposure, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma (each condition and the combined endpoint) were significantly associated with lung cancer risk. The risk was more marked for squamous cell carcinomas and for subjects who were diagnosed at older ages, and it remained significant when surrogate interviews were excluded. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that certain prior lung conditions increase the risk of lung cancer in men and women nonsmokers.