A case-control study to evaluate risk factors of gastric cancer was carried out in areas with contrasting incidence rates in Sweden. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 338 of 456 eligible histologically confirmed gastric-cancer cases and 669 of 880 eligible control subjects, sampled from population registers and frequency-matched by age and gender. We focused on 2 periods, adolescence and 20 years prior to interview. The association of gastric-cancer risk with dietary habits during adolescence were similar to that found for the period 20 years before interview; high consumption of wholemeal bread, fruit and vegetables was associated with reduced gastric-cancer risk. In addition, cheese, fish and tea had a protective effect during adolescence. Increased gastric-cancer risk was related to whole-milk consumption, but this association decreased substantially in a multivariate analysis including vegetables. There was a positive relationship between gastric-cancer risk and the age at which the interviewees started using refrigerators. This population-based study confirmed the protective effect of a high consumption of vegetables and fruit in the development of gastric cancer, but failed to find any association between intake of meat, sausage, cold cuts, liver, salt, coffee, the habit of frying, smoking or grilling foods, and risk of gastric cancer.