The incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma has increased in recent years, and Barrett's esophagus is a recognized risk factor. Gastroesophageal reflux of acid and/or bile is linked to these conditions and to reflux esophagitis. Inflammatory disorders can lead to carcinogenesis through activation of "prosurvival genes," including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Increased expression of these enzymes has been found in esophageal adenocarcinoma, Barrett's esophagus, and reflux esophagitis. Polymorphic variants in COX-2 and iNOS genes may be modifiers of risk of these conditions. In a population-based case-control study, we examined associations of the COX-2 8473 T>C and iNOS Ser608 Leu (C>T) polymorphisms with risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma, Barrett's esophagus, and reflux esophagitis. Genomic DNA was extracted from blood samples collected from cases of esophageal adenocarcinoma (n = 210), Barrett's esophagus (n = 212), and reflux esophagitis (n = 230) and normal population controls frequency matched for age and sex (n = 248). Polymorphisms were genotyped using TaqMan allelic discrimination assays. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were obtained from logistic regression models adjusted for potential confounding factors. The presence of at least one COX-2 8473 C allele was associated with a significantly increased risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma (adjusted odds ratio, 1.58; 95% confidence interval, 1.04-2.40). There was no significant association between this polymorphism and risk of Barrett's esophagus or reflux esophagitis or between the iNOS Ser608 Leu polymorphism and risk of these esophageal conditions. Our study suggests that the COX-2 8473 C allele is a potential genetic marker for susceptibility to esophageal adenocarcinoma.