Mspl restriction fragment length polymorphism in cytochrome P-450 IA1 (CypIA1) gene, which has been associated with lung cancer susceptibility in Japanese, was studied in persons from Rio de Janeiro, in the framework of a hospital-based, age, race (black or nonblack), and gender-matched case-control study (n = 222; 110 cases and 112 controls). Contrary to the hypothesis, there was no difference in the frequency of the C genotype (Mspl site-present homozygous), even after racial breakdown. There were no significant differences between cases and controls when categorized according to tobacco consumption. The lifetime quantity of tobacco smoked was not different among lung cancer patients with three different genotypes (A, Mspl site-absent, homozygous; B, heterozygote; and C). The background frequency of the Mspl polymorphism C genotype is a little less than 10%, similar to that of the Japanese healthy population. The CyplA1 Mspl polymorphism itself does not seem to be related to susceptibility to bronchial carcinogenesis in this area.