Adenocarcinomas of the oesophagus and of the gastric cardia have been reported to be increasing in incidence in many countries, while the incidence of squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus is stable and non-cardia gastric cancers are decreasing in incidence. Age-standardized incidence rates for the years 1982–93 for oesophageal adenocarcinoma and non-adenocarcinoma, and gastric cardia and non-cardia cancers were calculated based on state cancer registry incidence data. Time trends in the age-standardized rates were assessed using linear regression. A consistent increasing trend in the incidence of oesophageal adenocarcinoma in men was seen in all states of Australia and was statistically significant in all states except South Australia. There were no consistent nationwide trends in the incidence of oesophageal adenocarcinoma in women, although a trend towards an increase in the incidence of this cancer reached statistical significance (P < 0.05) in three states (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland). There were no important trends in the incidence of oesophageal non-adenocarcinoma in either men or women. There were no consistent nationwide changes in the incidence of gastric cardia cancer in either men or women, although this cancer was significantly increasing in Tasmania in both men and women. The incidence of cancer of the stomach not arising at the gastric cardia was significantly decreasing in men in all states and was also decreasing in women in all states, although in women this decrease was statistically significant only in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. There has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of oesophageal adenocarcinoma in men in Australia. The incidence of this cancer in men is now approximately equal with that of non-adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus. The incidence of non-cardia stomach cancer continues to fall.