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The aim of this study was to describe the occupational variation in the incidence of kidney cancer in the Nordic population.The population comprised of 14.9 million individuals included in censuses between 1960 and 1990. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated for each occupational group.Significantly increased SIRs were observed in welders [1.24, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.14 to 1.35], public safety workers (1.16, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.25), and seamen (1.16, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.26). Significantly decreased SIRs were found in laboratory assistants (0.76, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.94) and forestry workers (0.77, 95% CI 0.72 to 0.83).A relatively small variation in the incidence of malignancies of the kidney between occupational groups was found in the cohort. There is abundant room for further progress in determining the effect of smoking in particular occupational groups.