In 1976, 118,273 female nurses 30-55 years of age with no history of cancer completed a questionnaire regarding possible risk factors. By 1986, after 1,137,415 person-years of follow-up, we had documented 1,799 newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer. Compared with the risk of breast cancer for nonusers of oral contraceptives, the multivariate relative risks were 1.07 (95% confidence interval, 0.97-1.19) for all users, 1.06 (95% confidence interval, 0.96-1.18) for past users, and 1.53 (95% confidence interval, 1.06-2.19) for current users-women who used oral contraceptives up to 2 years before diagnosis of breast cancer. We conclude that overall past use of oral contraceptives is not associated with a substantial increase in the risk of breast cancer. Although we did not find women who used oral contraceptives before the first pregnancy to have an increased risk of breast cancer, the number of women who used oral contraceptives for a long duration in early reproductive life was too small to permit firm conclusions regarding the risk in this subgroup. [J Natl Cancer Inst 81:1313-1321, 1989].