Descriptive features of bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC) are presented using Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program population-based incidence data from 1973 through 1987, along with risk factors from histologically confirmed cases of BAC identified in a hospital-based case-control study conducted in Louisiana between 1979 and 1982. Compared to the rising incidence of lung cancer overall, BAC rates have remained relatively constant, accounting for less than 3% of all lung cancer. BAC incidence rates were higher in males, yet it explained proportionately more of the total lung cancer incidence in females. In the case-control study, 21 of the 33 cases originally ascertained from hospital pathology records were histologically confirmed as BAC. Most cases smoked cigarettes, with a 4-fold risk for ever smoking. Risks tended to increase with smoking intensity (reaching 10-fold for more than 1.5 packs/day) and duration (reaching 5-fold for more than 45 years of smoking). Following 10 or more years of employment, there was a 4-fold risk associated with motor freight occupations, along with nonsignificant excesses among construction workers, petroleum manufacturers, and sugar cane farmers. Cases were more likely than controls to have had emphysema or to have had a close family member with lung cancer. Although based on small numbers, this study suggests that BAC shares many of the epidemiological characteristics of lung adenocarcinoma.