A population-based, case-control study of laryngeal cancer was conducted in Shanghai, China, during 1988-1990, in which 201 incident cases (177 males, 24 females) and 414 controls (269 males, 145 females) were interviewed. Cigarette smoking was the major risk factor, accounting for 86% of the male and 54% of the female cases. After adjusting for smoking, there was little increase in risk associated with drinking alcoholic beverages. Among men, cases more often reported occupational exposures to asbestos and coal dust. A protective effect was associated with the intake of fruits (particularly oranges and tangerines), certain dark green/yellow vegetables, and garlic, but there was an increased risk with the intake of salt-preserved meat and fish. The findings suggest that risk factors for laryngeal cancer in Shanghai resemble those in Western countries, and they provide further evidence that dietary factors play an important etiologic role.