Large fractions of the human population do not express GSTM1 and GSTT1 (GSTM1/T1) enzymes because of deletions in these genes. These variations affect xenobiotic metabolism and have been evaluated in relation to lung cancer risk, mostly based on null/present gene models. We measured GSTM1/T1 heterozygous deletions, not tested in genome-wide association studies, in 2,120 controls and 2,100 cases from the Environment And Genetics in Lung cancer Etiology (EAGLE) study. We evaluated their effect on mRNA expression on lung tissue and peripheral blood samples and their association with lung cancer risk overall and by histology types. We tested the null/present, dominant, and additive models using logistic regression. Cigarette smoking and gender were studied as possible modifiers. Gene expression from blood and lung tissue cells was strongly down regulated in subjects carrying GSTM1/T1 deletions by both trend and dominant models (P < 0.001). In contrast to the null/present model, analyses distinguishing subjects with 0, 1, or 2 GSTM1/T1 deletions revealed several associations. There was a decreased lung cancer risk in never-smokers (OR = 0.44; 95%CI = 0.23-0.82; P = 0.01) and women (OR = 0.50; 95%CI = 0.28-0.90; P = 0.02) carrying 1 or 2 GSTM1 deletions. Analogously, male smokers had an increased risk (OR = 1.13; 95%CI = 1.0-1.28; P = 0.05) and women a decreased risk (OR = 0.78; 95%CI = 0.63-0.97; P = 0.02) for increasing GSTT1 deletions. The corresponding gene smoking and gene-gender interactions were significant (P < 0.05). Our results suggest that decreased activity of GSTM1/T1 enzymes elevates lung cancer risk in male smokers, likely due to impaired carcinogens' detoxification. A protective effect of the same mutations may be operative in never-smokers and women, possibly because of reduced activity of other genotoxic chemicals.