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The Agricultural Health Study, a large prospective cohort study has been initiated in North Carolina and Iowa. The objectives of this study are to: 1) identify and quantify cancer risks among men, women, whites, and minorities associated with direct exposure to pesticides and other agricultural agents; 2) evaluate noncancer health risks including neurotoxicity reproductive effects, immunologic effects, nonmalignant respiratory disease, kidney disease, and growth and development among children; 3) evaluate disease risks among spouses and children of farmers that may arise from direct contact with pesticides and agricultural chemicals used in the home lawns and gardens, and from indirect contact, such as spray drift, laundering work clothes, or contaminated food or water; 4) assess current and past occupational and nonoccupational agricultural exposures using periodic interviews and environmental and biologic monitoring; 5) study the relationship between agricultural exposures, biomarkers of exposure, biologic effect, and genetic susceptibility factors relevant to carcinogenesis; and 6) identify and quantify cancer and other disease risks associated with lifestyle factors such as diet, cooking practices, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption, and hair dye use. In the first year of a 3-year enrollment period, 26,235 people have been enrolled in the study, including 19,776 registered pesticide applicators and 6,459 spouses of registered farmer applicators. It is estimated that when the total cohort is assembled in 1997 it will include approximately 75,000 adult study subjects. Farmers, the largest group of registered pesticide applicators comprise 77% of the target population enrolled in the study. This experience compares favorably with enrollment rates of previous prospective studies.