Within the time period 1990-1993, childhood thyroid cancer incidence due to the Chernobyl accident increased dramatically in Belarus, especially with regard to the birth cohort January 1, 1971, to May 31, 1986. This rise subsequently slowed down, i.e. during the period 1994-1996. The respective data were analysed and compared with the results of an analysis on the time dependence of thyroid cancer incidence in a pooled cohort of persons who had been exposed during childhood to external radiation with high dose rates. Concerning the period of 5-10 years following exposure, the excess absolute cancer risk per unit thyroid dose in the latter (external) exposure group was found to exceed the one in the Belarus group by a factor of two. This difference, however, is not statistically significant. The age-adjusted average excess absolute risk per unit thyroid dose for the period of 5-50 years following external childhood exposure was found to be 8 female and 14 male cases per 10(4) person-year Gy, which is a factor about 2.5 times higher than for the non-adjusted risk in the pooled cohort, as reported by Ron et al. in 1995. Assessments of future excess thyroid cancer cases due to the Chernobyl accident were done on the basis of the time dependence of thyroid cancer risk following external exposure. The thyroid cancer incidence among the birth cohort considered in Belarus and for a period starting from the cessation of the available observation data (1 January 1997) and extending to 50 years after the Chernobyl accident has been estimated to be about 15,000 cases, with an uncertainty range of 5,000-45,000 cases. According to our calculations, 80% of these cases exceed the baseline risk under enhanced thyroid surveillance.