We investigated occupational exposure to diesel motor exhaust (DME) and the risk of lung cancer by histological subtype among men, using elemental carbon (EC) as a marker of DME exposure. 993 cases and 2359 controls frequency-matched on age and year of study inclusion were analyzed by unconditional logistic regression in this Swedish case-control study. Work and smoking histories were collected by a questionnaire and telephone interviews. DME was assessed by a job-exposure matrix. We adjusted for age, year of study inclusion, smoking, occupational exposure to asbestos and combustion products (other than motor exhaust), residential exposure to radon and exposure to air pollution from road traffic. The OR for lung cancer for ever vs. never exposure to DME was 1.15 (95% CI 0.94-1.41). The risk was higher for squamous and large cell, anaplastic or mixed cell carcinoma than for alveolar cell cancer, adenocarcinoma and small cell carcinoma. The OR in the highest quartile of exposure duration (=34 years) vs. never exposed was 1.66 (95% CI 1.08-2.56; p for trend over all quartiles: 0.027) for lung cancer overall, 1.73 (95% CI 1.00-3.00; p: 0.040) for squamous cell carcinoma and 2.89 (95% CI 1.37-6.11; p: 0.005) for the group of undifferentiated, large cell, anaplastic and mixed cell carcinomas. We found no convincing association between exposure intensity and lung cancer risk. Long-term DME exposure was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer, particularly to squamous cell carcinoma and the group of undifferentiated, large cell, anaplastic or mixed carcinomas.