Occupational exposure to chlorophenols is suspected to increase non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) risk. This association was examined using data on 995 NHL cases and 1783 controls from the Selected Cancers Study, a population-based case-control study of men aged 32 to 60 years from eight population-based cancer registries conducted from 1984 to 1988. Potential chlorophenol exposure was characterized by an industrial hygienist using intensity estimates and confidence ratings, based upon review of verbatim job histories. Cases with substantial chlorophenol exposure had a significantly greater number of years of chlorophenol exposure (median years: cases, 4.0; controls, 2.0; P = 0.046); however, in conditional logistic regression models, the odds ratio for more than 8 years of substantial exposure was 1.51 (95% CI, 0.88 to 2.59). Overall, the findings do not provide strong support for an association with NHL risk. Chlorophenol exposure in this study is not based upon measured values and, therefore, may fail to characterize actual chlorophenol exposures accurately. Because of the large presence of machinists in the potentially chlorophenol-exposed group, these results may be underestimated by exposure misclassification if these subjects were not exposed to chlorophenolic biocides. However, these results are consistent with other findings, which suggest that chlorophenol exposure is not likely to be a strong risk factor for NHL.