Previous studies suggest that the relationship between genes and nonsyndromic cleft lip +/- cleft palate (CLP) or cleft palate only (CP) may be modified by the environment. Using data from a population-based case-control study, we examined allelic variants for three genes, i.e., transforming growth factor alpha (TGFA), transforming growth factor beta 3 (TGFB3), and Msh (Drosophila) homeobox homolog 1 (MSX1), and their interactions with two exposures during pregnancy (maternal cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption) as risk factors for CLP and CP. For each cleft phenotype, risk estimates associated with most allelic variants tended to be near unity. Risk estimates for maternal smoking (> or = 10 cigarettes/day) were significantly elevated for CP and were most elevated among infants with allelic variants at the TGFB3 or MSX1 sites. By comparison, risk estimates for maternal alcohol consumption (> or = 4 drinks/month) were significantly elevated for CLP and were most elevated among infants with allelic variants at the MSX1 site. Our results suggest that development of CLP and CP may be influenced independently by maternal exposures but more significantly by interaction of such exposures and specific allelic variants.