A cohort study of the mortality experience (1971-1987) of male Canadian prairie farmers has been conducted. This involved linking the records of 156,242 male Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba farmers identified on the 1971 Census of Agriculture and the corresponding Census of Population to mortality records. Exposure indices for individual farm operators were derived from 1971 Census of Agriculture records. Cancer histologies for brain cancer cases were obtained from the Canadian National Cancer Incidence Database and from Provincial Cancer Registries. A statistically significant association was noted between risk of dying of glioblastomas and increasing fuel/oil expenditures (test for trend p = 0.03, top quartile relative risk = 2.11, 95% confidence interval = 0.89-5.01). No significant association was found between brain cancer and either education or mother tongue. However, low income was associated with a significantly reduced risk of brain cancer mortality.