Background. Smoking prevalence rates remain high among women and smoking initiation has increased for young adults. Little is known about the unique patterns of smoking, risk factors, and correlates of quitting in Black versus White women of child-bearing age. Method. This study examined the relationships among smoking, ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), and lifestyle variables among 715 women (43.6% Blacks and 56.4% Whites). Stringent inclusion criteria were used for ethnicity, which allows for distinct comparisons but may reduce generalizability of results. Results. Black current smokers smoked fewer cigarettes per day and reported initiating smoking at a later age than Whites. Current versus never smoking was associated with income, education, and caffeine intake. There was a significant ethnicity by alcohol interaction (at lower levels of alcohol intake Whites were more likely to smoke but at higher levels of alcohol there were no ethnic differences). Former smoking versus current smoking was associated with alcohol intake, education, and pack years of smoking. Conclusions. The results of the study suggest several ethnic differences in smoking patterns as well as several correlates of smoking status. These results have implications for the tailoring of interventions and illustrate the association of other health risk factors with smoking status. © 2003 American Health Foundation and Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.