We conducted interviews on 306 histologically confirmed incident cases of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) occurring in residents of Guangzhou City, China, who were under the age of 50, and an equal number of age-, sex-, and neighborhood-matched controls. We also interviewed 110 mothers of patients under 45 and 139 mothers of controls who were matched to patients under age 45, to obtain information on childhood exposures of study subjects. Occupational exposure to products of combustion (RR = 2.4, p = 0.001) and cotton dust (RR = 0.3, P = 0.01) was independently related to risk of NPC. Use of tobacco products showed a moderate association with NPC; a lifetime exposure of 30+ pack-year equivalents conferred a 2-fold increased risk. A history of chronic ear or nose condition (rhinitis, sinusitis, nasal polyp, otitis media) was another risk factor for NPC (RR = 2.2, p < 0.0005), and 18 cases compared to 3 controls had a first-degree relative with NPC (RR = 6.0, p = 0.001).