The aim of this study is to investigate to what extent occupational exposures may explain socioeconomic inequalities in lung cancer incidence after adjusting for smoking and dietary factors. Analyses were based on a subsample of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC study), a prospective cohort. Analyses included 703 incident lung cancer cases among men in Denmark, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Greece. Socioeconomic position was measured using the highest level of education. Estimates of relative indices of inequality (RII) were computed with Cox regression models. We first adjusted for smoking (with detailed information on duration and quantity) and dietary factors (fruits and vegetables consumption) and then for occupational exposures. Exposure to three carcinogens (asbestos, heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) was analyzed. Occupational exposures explained 14% of the socioeconomic inequalities remaining after adjustment for smoking and fruits and vegetables consumption. Inequalities remained nevertheless statistically significant. The RII decreased from 1.87 (95% CI: 1.36-2.56) to 1.75 (1.27-2.41). The decrease was more pronounced when adjusting for asbestos than for heavy metals or PAH. Analyses by birth cohort suggested an effect of occupational exposures among older men, while due to small number of endpoints no conclusion could be drawn about the role of occupational exposures in educational inequalities among younger men. Our study revealed that the impact of occupational exposures on socioeconomic inequalities in cancer incidence, rarely studied until now, exists while of modest magnitude. (c) 2009 UICC.