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To explore the role of DDE, the major and most persistent DDT derivative, in cancer etiology, we examined the association of the 1968 adipose DDE levels of population samples from 22 U.S. states with age-adjusted mortality rates between 1975 and 1994 for multiple myeloma; non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL); and cancer of the breast, corpus uteri, liver, and pancreas. Separate analyses were conducted by gender and race. Covariates in the regression models included average per-capita income, percent metropolitan residents, and the population density. Liver cancer mortality increased significantly with adipose DDE levels in both sexes among whites, but not among African Americans. No association was observed for pancreatic cancer and multiple myeloma. Breast cancer mortality was inversely correlated with adipose DDE levels among both white and African American women. Significant inverse correlations were also observed for uterine cancer among white women, whereas no association was observed for African Americans and for NHL among whites (men and women) and African American women. The results for pancreatic cancer, multiple myeloma, NHL, breast cancer, and uterine cancer did not support the hypothesis of an association with past adipose levels of the DDT derivative DDE. The multivariate analysis confirmed most findings. The association between liver cancer and DDE observed among whites, particularly in view of the occurrence of hepatic neoplasms in laboratory animals exposed to DDT, warrants further investigation.