We conducted a case-control study to search for any relationship between use of oral contraceptives and development of breast cancer or benign breast disease. Women less than 50 years old with these diseases were matched with 2 controls by age, race, religion, and hospital. Home interviews elicited information on oral contraceptive use and other host and environmental factors. The study population comprised 1,770 women, including 452 with breast cancer and 446 with benign breast disease. The relative risk of developing cancer or benign disease was measured by matched set and summary chi-square analyses. Although the relative risk of developing breast cancer among "ever-users" of oral contraceptives was 1.1, the risk among women using oral contraceptives for 2-4 years was 1.9 (significantly increased). This risk estimate reached 2.5 for the 2- to 4-year users if they were still taking oral contraceptives when entered into study. Moreover, prior biopsy for benign breast disease increased the cancer risk among long-term users by as much as 11-fold. The relative risk of breast cancer did not vary by age, interval since first use, earliest year of use, or interval since last use. These results could be interpreted to indicate that oral contraceptives did not induce breast cancer but may have accelerated the growth rate of preexisting breast cancer. The relative risk of developing benign breast disease among ever-users of oral contraceptives was 0.8 (significantly reduced); it decreased with longer duration of use until it reached 0.2 for women who took these hormones 8 years or more. The relative risk of benign breast was not affected by earliest year of use or interval since last use. We concluded that oral contraceptives reduced the incidence of benign breast disease, but that use of steroid hormones is ill-advised for women with already established benign breast disease.