This study examines childhood cancer risk in relation to certain factors likely to indicate magnetic field exposure from ground currents in the home. Substantial ground currents are most often found in homes having conductive plumbing, in which an uninterrupted metallic path in the water pipes and water main connects the grounding systems of neighboring houses. Information on plumbing conductivity was obtained from water suppliers for the homes of 347 cases and 277 controls identified in an earlier study of magnetic field exposure and childhood cancer in the Denver area. An increased cancer risk was observed for children in homes with conductive plumbing: The matched odds ratio was 1.72 (1.03–2.88) and increased to 3.00 (1.33–6.76) when analysis was limited to cases and controls who were residentially stable from the reference date to the study date. A measurement metric likely to indicate active ground currents (measurements having above-median intensity and a nonvertical orientation of <55° from the horizontal) was identified. In contrast to measured field intensity alone, for which only modest associations with cancer have been reported, this metric shows a high and significant cancer risk [matched O.R. = 4.0 (1.6–10.0)] consistent over a range of intensity and angle cutpoints. Such elevated nonvertical fields were also associated with cancer in an independent data set, which was gathered to study adult nonlymphocytic leukemia in the Seattle area. The associations of cancer with conductive plumbing and with this exposure metric both suggest that cancer risk is increased among persons with elevated magnetic field exposure from residential ground currents. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.