Glutathione S-transferases GSTM1, GSTM3, GSTP1 and GSTT1 are involved in the detoxification of active metabolites of several carcinogens in tobacco smoke. We studied the potential role of GSTM3 and GSTP1 gene polymorphisms either separately, or in combination with GSTM1 and GSTT1 gene polymorphisms, in susceptibility to lung cancer using peripheral blood DNA from 150 lung cancer patients and 172 control individuals, all regular smokers. The frequencies of GSTM3, AA, AB and BB genotypes were 70.7%, 24.0% and 5.3% in cases and 72.7%, 24.4% and 2.9% in control individuals respectively. The frequencies of GSTP1, AA, AG and GG genotypes were 44.7%, 44.0% and 11.3% in cases and 50.0%, 37.2% and 12.8% in control individuals respectively. When studied separately, neither GSTM3 nor GSTP1 genotypes contributed significantly to the risk of lung cancer. Although failing to reach statistical significance, the combined GSTM3 AA and GSTP1 (AG or GG) genotype conferred a nearly threefold risk when the GSTM1 gene was concurrently lacking (odds ratio 2.9, 95% confidence interval 0.7-12.1). Significant interactions were observed between pack-years of smoking and the combined GSTM3 AA and GSTP1 (AG or GG) genotype, or the combined GSTM3 AA, GSTP1 (AG or GG) and GSTM1 null genotype. The combination of these three a priori at risk genotypes conferred an increased risk of lung cancer among smokers with a history of at least 35 pack-years (odds ratio 2.7, 95% confidence interval 1.2-6.0), but not in lighter smokers, probable because of the lower average number of pack-years of smoking found among control individuals with this genotype combination.