Air pollution is a serious health problem in major cities in Mexico. The concentrations of monitored criteria pollutants have been above the US National Ambient Air Quality Standards for the last decade. To determine whether the number of primary malignant nasal and paranasal neoplasms has increased, we surveyed 256 such cases admitted to a major adult oncology hospital located in metropolitan Mexico City (MMC) for the period from 1976- 1997 and to a tertiary hospital in Monterrey, an industrial city, for the period from 1993-1998. The clinical histories and histopathologic material were reviewed, and a brief clinical summary was written for each case. In the MMC hospital the number of newly diagnosed nasal and paranasal neoplasms per year for the period from 1976-1986 averaged 5.1, whereas for the next 11 years it increased to 12.5. The maximal increase was observed in 19951997, with an average of 20.3 new cases per year (P = 0.0006). The predominant neoplasms in these series were non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, adenocarcinoma, Schneidertan carcinoma, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. In the Monterrey hospital a 2-fold increase in the numbers of newly diagnosed nasal and paranasal neoplasms was recorded between 1993 and 1998. The predominant MMC neoplasm in this series, namely nasal T- cell/natural killer cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, is potentially Epstein-Barr virus related. Nasal and paranasal malignant neoplasms are generally rare. Environmental causative factors include exposure in industries such as nickel refining, leather, and wood furniture manufacturing. Although epidemiologic studies have not addressed the relationship between outdoor air pollution and sinonasal malignant neoplasms, there is strong evidence for the nasal and paranasal carcinogenic effect of occupational aerosol complex chemical mixtures. General practitioners and ear, nose, and throat physicians working in highly polluted cities should be aware of the clinical presentations of these patients. Identification of this apparent increase in sinonasal malignant neoplasms in two urban Mexican polluted cities warrants further mechanistic and epidemiologic studies.