OBJECTIVES: We examined the relationship between genetic ancestry, socioeconomic status (SES), and lung cancer among African Americans and Latinos. METHODS: We evaluated SES and genetic ancestry in a Northern California lung cancer case-control study (1998-2003) of African Americans and Latinos. Lung cancer case and control participants were frequency matched on age, gender, and race/ethnicity. We assessed case-control differences in individual admixture proportions using the 2-sample t test and analysis of covariance. Logistic regression models examined associations among genetic ancestry, socioeconomic characteristics, and lung cancer. RESULTS: Decreased Amerindian ancestry was associated with higher education among Latino control participants and greater African ancestry was associated with decreased education among African lung cancer case participants. Education was associated with lung cancer among both Latinos and African Americans, independent of smoking, ancestry, age, and gender. Genetic ancestry was not associated with lung cancer among African Americans. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that socioeconomic factors may have a greater impact than genetic ancestry on lung cancer among African Americans. The genetic heterogeneity and recent dynamic migration and acculturation of Latinos complicate recruitment; thus, epidemiological analyses and findings should be interpreted cautiously.