A combined analysis of two polymorphic enzymes, glutathione S-transferase mu (GST M1) and q (GST T1) and their implication as cancer risk factors was performed in a case-control study of lung and bladder cancers. Using a multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based method, the frequency of the homozygous deleted GSTM1 and GSTT1 genotypes was examined in 117 lung cancer patients, 67 urinary bladder cancer patients, and in a community-based sample of 248 healthy, unrelated individuals. In both cancer groups the frequency of the GSTM1 null genotype was higher in comparison with that of the control group (59% and 59.7% vs. 49.6%), but this increase did not reach statistical significance (p > 0.05). After grouping by the smoking status, among smokers in both cancer groups (62.1% in lung cancer and 71.4% in the bladder cancer group, respectively) there were statistically significantly (p < 0.05) increased frequencies of the GSTM1 deletion genotype as compared to the control group (49.6%). Smokers with absence of the GSTM1 gene were at an approximately 1.7-fold higher risk for lung cancer (odds ratio--OR = 1.67, 95% confidence interval--CI 95% = 1.0-2.7, p = 0.04) and an approximately 2.5-fold higher risk for bladder cancer (OR = 2.54, CI 95% = 1.2-5.5, p = 0.02). As related to GSTT1, our study demonstrated an overall GSTT1 effect on bladder cancer risk. Individuals with absence of the GSTT1 gene were at an approximately 2.5-fold higher risk of developing bladder cancer. In the lung cancer cases, the frequency of the putatively high risk GSTT1 null genotype was not increased as compared with controls. No effect of smoking was found on risk of lung and bladder cancer associated with the GSTT1 0/0 genotype. In combined analysis, the obtained results suggested that individuals who were both GSTM1 null and GSTT1 null may be at increased risk because they lack both enzymes. The findings suggest that the GSTM1 null genotype may be associated with susceptibility to lung and urinary bladder cancer in dependence on the exposure to carcinogens in cigarette smoke and that the GSTT1 null genotype is not a critical factor in mediating the risk of lung cancer, but may be associated with an increased susceptibility to bladder cancer.