Farmers may experience exposure to several hazardous substances, and cancer risk in this occupational group is considered an important public health issue.In order to examine the association between cancer and farming among male agricultural workers, a hospital-based case-control study was conducted in five Italian rural areas. The cancer sites selected for the study were: lip, oral cavity and oropharynx, oesophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, lung, skin melanoma, skin non-melanoma, prostate, bladder, kidney, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In all, 1525 newly diagnosed cases, aged 20-75 years, were ascertained in hospital records, covering the period between March 1990 and September 1992, and for 1279 of them, a detailed exposure information was collected by a standard questionnaire. Data analyses were performed comparing each cancer site to a control group, including a subset of the other cancer sites in the study. Unconditional logistic regression models were used in the statistical analyses.Increased risks of cancer associated with agricultural work were found for stomach (OR = 1.4, 95%CI:0.9-2.0), rectum (OR = 1.5, 95%CI:0.8-2.7), larynx (OR = 1.4, 95%CI:0.8-2.5), and prostate (OR = 1.4, 95%CI:1.0-2.1). The excess of prostate cancer was specifically related to application of pesticides (OR = 1.7, 95%CI:1.2-2.6).