The cumulative incidence of atopic disease among adults was assessed in the heavily polluted Russian town Nikel on the Kola peninsula. The study was conducted in spring 1994 using a self-administered questionnaire. A total of 3,368 (93.6%) of the 3,600 subjects returned a completed questionnaire. Information about atopic diseases, smoking habits and living conditions in the family was also obtained. A cumulative incidence of atopic diseases of 11% was reported in 377 adults. This was significantly more frequent in women (12.7%) than in men (9.7%). Smoking habits differed from other western countries, as 53% of males and only 10% of females smoked. Indoor damp was reported by 13% and the keeping of dogs and cats by 52%. Our study indicates that atopic diseases is less frequent among adults in a heavily polluted Arctic Russian town than in western industrialized countries.