A study of occupational associations with female lung cancer was conducted. Records of the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance (NOMS) system were searched to identify all lung cancer deaths occurring in working white and black males and females from 1979 through 1990. The NOMS system was based on death certificates from 28 participating states The death certificates contained coded information on occupation and industry of the decedents. Age adjusted and race and gender specific proportionate lung cancer mortality ratios (PMRs) were calculated for 11 broad occupational categories and more than 400 specific occupations. A total of 92,964 lung cancer deaths occurred in white females during the study period, 194,420 occurred in white males, 8,315 occurred in black females, and 22,270 occurred in black males. Across both races and genders, the proportion of deaths attributed to lung cancer was increased in blue collar workers and decreased in farming related occupations and in homemakers. Black and white women employed as executives and managers, technicians, sales workers, and administrative support clerical workers had significant excesses of lung cancer mortality. White females employed in professional occupations showed a significant deficit in lung cancer mortality. Black females employed in these occupations showed a nonsignificant excess. Men employed in professional occupations had lower lung cancer mortality than expected. Significant excess lung cancer mortality for black and white males was seen in service and laborer job groupings. Stratification by age, younger or older than 65 years, did not alter the PMRs for females. The authors conclude that this analysis has found gender and racial variations in lung cancer risk for broad occupational groups. For working females, white collar occupations are associated with excess lung cancer mortality, whereas in males employment in blue collar occupations is associated with excess lung cancer mortality. Since tobacco is responsible for more than 90% of all lung cancer, smoking cessation programs targeting females in white collar occupations can improve the effectiveness of lung cancer prevention programs.