BACKGROUND: In 1987, investigators in Liaoning Province, China, reported that mortality rates for all cancer, stomach cancer, and lung cancer in 1970-1978 were higher in villages with hexavalent chromium (Cr)-contaminated drinking water than in the general population. The investigators reported rates, but did not report statistical measures of association or precision. METHODS: Using reports and other communications from investigators at the local Jinzhou Health and Anti-Epidemic Station, we obtained data on Cr contamination of groundwater and cancer mortality in 9 study regions near a ferrochromium factory. We estimated:(1) person-years at risk in the study regions, based on census and population growth rate data, (2) mortality counts, based on estimated person-years at risk and previously reported mortality rates, and (3) rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals. RESULTS: The all-cancer mortality rate in the combined 5 study regions with Cr-contaminated water was negligibly elevated in comparison with the rate in the 4 combined study regions without contaminated water (rate ratio = 1.13; 95% confidence interval = 0.86-1.46), but was somewhat more elevated in comparison with the whole province (1.23; 0.97-1.53). Stomach cancer mortality in the regions with contaminated water was more substantially elevated in comparison with the regions without contaminated water (1.82; 1.11-2.91) and the whole province (1.69; 1.12-2.44). Lung cancer mortality was slightly elevated in comparison with the unexposed study regions (1.15; 0.62-2.07), and more strongly elevated in comparison with the whole province (1.78; 1.03-2.87). Mortality from other cancers combined was not elevated in comparison with either the unexposed study regions (0.86; 0.53-1.36) or the whole province (0.92; 0.58-1.38). CONCLUSIONS: While these data are limited, they are consistent with increased stomach cancer risk in a population exposed to Cr in drinking water. ?? 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.