Serum samples were collected in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, from 1970 to 1972 for 208 persons who in 1973-1983 developed stomach cancer; for 77 who in 1973-1983 developed lung cancer; and for controls matched for age, sex, city, and season of blood collection. Average serum levels of selenium and zinc were slightly (< 5%) but not significantly lower among the cancer cases than among controls. Smoking-adjusted risks of lung cancer were elevated only among those in the lowest quartiles of serum selenium [odds ratio (OR) = 1.8] and zinc (OR = 1.3); the trends in risk of this cancer with decreasing serum levels were neither linear nor significant. Little or no excess risk of stomach cancer was observed among those with lowest levels of selenium (OR = 1.0) or zinc (OR = 1.2). These exploratory findings add to limited data available from other reports showing slightly increased risks of lung cancer associated with low blood levels of selenium, but suggest little association with either lung or stomach cancer across normal selenium or zinc ranges in this Japanese population.