The objective of the present study was to estimate the risk of lung cancer associated with several food groups. The study included 1,032 cases with lung cancer and 1,030 hospitalized controls, admitted to the Cancer Institute of Montevideo in the period 1988-2000. Total meat intake was directly associated with lung cancer (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.2-2.2) whereas total vegetables and total fruits were inversely associated with lung cancer risk. When vegetable and fruit intakes were further adjusted for smoking status, years since quit, cigarettes/day and age at start, the protective effect was attenuated for plant foods (total vegetables and fruits). Also, the effect of vegetables and fruits was closest to the null among smokers of black tobacco and hand-rolled cigarettes. Thus, the present study is consistent in showing moderate associations with major food groups (meat, vegetables and fruits), and strongly suggests that the stringent control of tobacco smoking is mandatory in studies dealing with diet and lung cancer risk.