The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 2001 National Land Cover Database (NLCD) was compared to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2002 Census of Agriculture. We compared areal estimates for cropland at the state and county level for 14 States in the Upper Midwest region of the United States. Absolute differences between the NLCD and Census cropland areal estimates at the state level ranged from 1.3% (Minnesota) to 37.0% (Wisconsin). The majority of counties (74.5%) had differences of less than 100 km2. 7.2% of the counties had differences of more than 200 km2. Regions where the largest areal differences occurred were in southern Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, and generally occurred in areas with the lowest proportions of cropland (i.e., dominated by forest or grassland). Before using the 2001 NLCD for agricultural applications, such as mapping of specific crop types, users should be aware of the potential for misclassification errors, especially where the proportion of cropland to other land cover types is fairly low.