A case/control study of possible occupational associations with cancer at 11 sites in working women in the Detroit, Michigan area was conducted. The cases consisted of 5,174 females diagnosed with lung, colon, bladder, rectal, stomach, esophageal, liver, salivary gland, or eye cancer, melanoma, or mesothelioma from 1984 through 1991 identified from the Metropolitan Detroit Cancer Surveillance System. The referents consisted of 1,972 females without a history of cancer matched by age and race to the cases. The subjects or their surrogates were interviewed by questionnaire to obtain information on lifetime occupational history, smoking, medical history, residential history, and sociodemographic factors. Possible associations between the identified occupations and cancer at the 11 sites were examined by case/control techniques. Black females accounted for more than 25% of the cases at only three cancer sites: esophagus, liver, and stomach. The most frequently reported occupation was housewife, regardless of cancer site or race. The percentage of cases reporting housewife as the usual occupation ranged from 54.2% for salivary gland cancer to 75.8% for eye cancer. Of the controls, 62.5% reported their usual occupation as housewife. No significantly elevated cancer rates occurred in the housewives. Among occupations of usual employment, elevated risks were seen only for bladder and rectal cancer, odds ratios (ORs) 2.0 to 2.5 and 2.0, respectively. The increased bladder cancer risk was seen in household services and dry cleaning workers and machine operators. The increased rectal cancer risk was seen in food workers. Neither the rectal nor bladder cancer risks were statistically significant. Among usual industry of occupation, significant increases for bladder cancer were seen in computer manufacturing workers and esophageal cancer in restaurant employees, ORs 4.2 and 2.4, respectively. Ever employment in bus and truck services industries and military service was associated with significant increases in eye cancer risk, ORs 4.6 and 4.4, respectively. Ever employment in hairdressing shops was associated with an increased risk for salivary gland cancer. The authors conclude that several interesting associations that require further investigation have been detected.