There has been concern about the role of analgesics in the development of renal-cell cancer, although a few studies have reported moderately elevated risks with regular or long-term use. In a large international case-control study of renal-cell cancer we examined, among other hypotheses, the effect of phenacetin-containing and of other types of analgesics: paracetamol (acetaminophen), salicylates (mainly aspirin) and pyrazolones (e.g., antipyrine or phenazone). Relative risks, adjusted for the effects of age, sex, body-mass index, tobacco smoking and study centre, were not significantly increased with intake of phenacetin, either when lifetime consumption was categorized at the level of >0.1 kg or when subjects were subdivided further by amount. Nor were paracetamol, salicylates or pyrazolones linked with renal-cell cancer. No consistently increasing risks with consumption level was found. The lack of association was not altered by restricting analgesic use to that which occurred 5 or 10 years before the defined “cut-off” date or when analysis was restricted to exclusive users of a particular type of analgesic. Neither was the risk influenced by the rate of consumption or whether the consumption had occurred at a young age. Our study provides clear evidence that aspirin is unrelated to renal-cell cancer risk, and our findings do not support the hypothesis that analgesics containing phenacetin or paracetamol increase the risk, although the number of “regular” users and the amount of these types of analgesic consumed were too small to confidently rule out a minor carcinogenic effect of phenacetin and paracetamol. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.