Effects of oral contraception on cancers of the female breast and reproductive tract are critically reviewed from human studies reported since 1980. The cumulative risk of breast cancer through 59 years of age appears to bear no relationship to oral contraceptive (OC) use whatsoever. Studies restricted to women under age 45, however, raise concern about a possible adverse effect from OC use before a first-term pregnancy. A duration-related protective effect against endometrial cancer occurs from use of combined OCs. The risk is reduced by about 40% with 2 years of use, and by about 60% with 4 or more years of oral contraception. Oral contraception in excess of 3 years protects against ovarian cancer. Four years of use confers a 50% reduction in risk and 7 or more years of use confers a 60%-80% reduction in ovarian cancer risk. Studies of cervical dysplasia and carcinoma in situ suggest elevated risks with 2 or more years of OC use, although results are difficult to interpret in view of numerous factors that might distort the findings. The risk of invasive cervical cancer appear to be unaffected by up to 5 years of oral contraception. Beyond this, there is evidence suggesting an elevated risk which approaches a 2-fold increase at 10 years of use. Cancers of the vagina and fallopian tube are extremely rare. Their risks have yet to be characterized in relation to oral contraception.