Nearly 600,000 persons have immigrated to the United States from Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War. Despite the rapid growth of the U.S. Vietnamese population, little is known about cancer incidence in this migrant group. Using population-based data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program, California Cancer Registry and International Agency for Research on Cancer, we compared cancer incidence rates for Vietnamese in the United States (1988–1992) to rates for residents of Ha Noi, Vietnam (1991–1993); non-Hispanic whites were included to serve as the U.S. reference rates. Lung and breast cancers were the most common among Vietnamese males and females, respectively, regardless of geographic region. Rates of cancers more common to U.S. whites, such as breast, prostate and colon cancers, were elevated for U.S. Vietnamese compared to residents in Ha Noi but still lower than rates for U.S. whites. Rates of cancers more common to Asian countries, such as stomach, liver, lung and cervical cancers, were likewise elevated for U.S. Vietnamese compared to residents of Ha Noi and exceeded corresponding rates for whites. Incidence patterns for stomach, liver, lung and cervical cancers may reflect increased risk of exposures in this migrant population and should be further explored to uncover the relative contributions of environmental and genetic factors to cancer etiology. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.