Background. Genetic polymorphisms of drug metabolizing enzymes involved in the detoxification pathways of carcinogenic substances may influence cancer risk.Methods. Case-control study that investigates the relationship between CYP1A1 Ile/Val, exon 4 mEH, and GSTM1 null genetic polymorphism and the risk of oral and pharyngeal cancer examining the interaction between these genes, tobacco, and alcohol. 92 incident cases and 130 consecutive hospital-based controls have been included.Results. No significant associations were found for any of the genotypes assessed. The estimated risk was slightly elevated in subjects with the wild type of the mEH gene and the null GSTM1 genotype. For exon 4 mEH heterozygous polymorphism, the risk was slightly lower for heavy smokers than for light smokers. The inverse association was observed for the GSTM1 null genotype.Conclusions. The results suggest that exon 4 mEH and GSTM1 null polymorphisms might influence oral and pharyngeal cancer.