Background: Previous epidemiologic studies have examined the association of smoking with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) incidence, but their results have been inconsistent. Moreover, limited information exists on the association between smoking and survival in ALS patients. We evaluated the association of smoking with ALS incidence and survival in a population-based cohort.Methods: We conducted a case-control study nested in the General Practice Research Database, a computerized clinical database in the United Kingdom. Cases were 1143 individuals with a diagnosis of ALS; 11,371 matched controls were selected among GPRD participants free of ALS. Predictors of survival were determined in the ALS cases. Smoking information was obtained from the computer database.Results: Smoking was not associated with the risk of ALS in this population. The rate ratio (RR) of ALS comparing ever versus never smokers was 1.04, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.80-1.34. In analysis stratified by gender, however, ever smoking was associated with ALS in women (RR 1.53, 95% CI 1.04-2.23) but not in men (RR 0.75, 95% CI 0.53-1.06). Mortality was 71% after 2.1 average years of follow-up. Old age and female sex were associated with lower survival. Smoking was a predictor of mortality only in women. Comparing ever versus never smokers, RR (95% CI) of death was 1.31 (1.04-1.65) in women, and 0.90 (0.72-1.11) in men.Conclusion: In this large population-based study, smoking was associated with ALS risk and worse survival in women but not in men.