BACKGROUND: The results of preconference and postconference surveys, as well as conference evaluation forms, distributed to attendees at the "Native American Cancer Conference III: Risk Factors, Outreach and Intervention Strategies," Seattle, Washington, June 16-19, 1995, are presented. METHODS: Conference attendees were requested to complete a multi-item survey designed to assess knowledge and perceptions relating to cancer among native peoples at the beginning and end of the conference. The evaluation instrument solicited qualitative impressions of the conference. RESULTS: Survey respondents were predominantly female (70%), and approximately half were native persons representing 48 different American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Knowledge levels were generally high at baseline for most items relating to cancer, with evidence of significant improvement for several items on the postconference survey. The majority of respondents believed that cancer was of equal importance compared with other health problems and that cancer services for American Indians and Alaska Natives are generally less extensive compared with the majority population; there was no evidence of opinion change noted in the postconference survey. Results from the qualitative evaluation expressed the unique and affirmative experiences among participants in terms of the social, cultural, and informational sharing that occurred. CONCLUSIONS: It is hoped that the positive experiences of conference attendees will serve to stimulate the organization of similar programs and the design of research projects that both assess and expand cancer control services among Native peoples.