In conjunction with a population-based case-control study of lung cancer in New Mexico, the histopathology of cases diagnosed during 1980 and 1981 and during 1970-72 was reviewed. Adequate histologic or cytologic material was obtained for 725 cases, with 308 during 1970-72 and 417 during 1980-81. The light microscopic histologic type was classified on the basis of review by 2 pathologists. No significant differences were found in the histologic-type distributions in Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites. In males, the distributions of histologic types were similar in the two time periods, but in non-Hispanic white women the proportion of adenocarcinoma declined during 1980-81 as the proportion of small cell carcinoma increased. The panel classification was compared with that recorded by the New Mexico Tumor Registry. Overall agreement was 52.1% for 1970-72 and increased to 65.2% for 1980-81. The discrepancies between the two classifications were largest for the categories of large cell undifferentiated carcinoma and "other malignancy."