The etiology of glioma, the most commonly diagnosed malignant brain tumor among adults in the United States, is poorly understood. N-nitroso compounds are known carcinogens, which are found in cigarette smoke and can induce gliomas in rats. On this basis, it has been hypothesized that cigarette smoking may be associated with an increased risk of glioma. We investigated the association between cigarette smoking and glioma risk in the National Breast Screening Study, which included 89,835 Canadian women aged 40–59 years at recruitment between 1980 and 1985. Linkages to national cancer and mortality databases yielded data on cancer incidence and deaths from all causes, respectively, with follow-up ending between 1998 and 2000. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between cigarette smoking and risk of glioma. During a mean of 16.4 years of follow-up, we observed 120 incident glioma cases. Among ever smokers, women who reported having quit smoking had a 51% increase in risk of glioma compared with never smokers (HR = 1.51, 95% CI = 0.97–2.34), while current smokers did not appear to have an increase in risk. When the association with former smokers was further examined by years since quitting, women who had quit smoking >10 years before baseline were at a decreased risk of glioma compared with women who had quit within the 10 years prior to baseline (HR = 0.55, 95% CI = 0.29–1.07), indicating that the association between former smokers and glioma may be driven by women, who recently quit smoking. Compared with nonsmokers, duration of cigarette smoking, number of cigarettes smoked per day and pack-years of smoking were associated with increased glioma risk, although the increases in risk were relatively modest. The present study provides some support for a positive association between cigarette smoking and risk of glioma. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.