BACKGROUND: High meat consumption could potentially increase the risk of bladder cancer, but findings from epidemiologic studies are inconsistent. We prospectively examined the association between meat intake and bladder cancer risk in a population-based cohort study. METHODS: We prospectively followed 82,002 Swedish women and men who were free from cancer and completed a food-frequency questionnaire in 1997. Incident cases of bladder cancer were identified in the Swedish cancer registries. Cox proportional hazards models were used to calculate hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI), adjusted for age, sex, education, smoking status, pack-years of smoking, and total energy intake. RESULTS: During a mean follow-up of 9.4 years, 485 incident cases of bladder cancer (76 women and 409 men) were ascertained in the cohort. We observed no association between the intake of total or any specific type of meat and the risk of bladder cancer. The multivariate HRs (95% CIs) comparing the highest and the lowest category of intake were 1.05 (0.71-1.55) for total meat, 1.00 (0.71-1.41) for red meat, 1.01 (0.80-1.28) for processed meats, 0.96 (0.70-1.30) for chicken/poultry, and 0.92 (0.65-1.30) for fried meats/fish. The associations did not vary by sex or smoking status. CONCLUSIONS: These results do not support the hypothesis that intake of red meat, processed meat, poultry, or fried meats/fish is associated with the risk of developing bladder cancer.