Objective: The study objective was to review internal tobacco industry documents written between 1985 and 1995 regarding the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) population in the USA. These documents detail opportunities and barriers to promotion of tobacco products, as viewed by the tobacco industry and its market research firms. Data sources/methods: Researchers reviewed tobacco industry documents from the document depository in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the tobacco industry's website, The Tobacco Archive, in a systematic fashion. A combined technique was employed using title keywords, dates, and names to search the 4(b) index. Findings: A review of internal tobacco company documents reveal that during the late 1980s, the industry and its market research firms recognised the importance of the AAPI community as a potential business market. Documents describe the population growth in this community, the high prevalence of smoking in countries of origin, high purchasing power of AAPI immigrants, cultural predisposition to smoking, opportunities afforded by the high proportion of retail businesses under AAPI ownership, barriers to developing the AAPI market, comprehensive campaigns, and political and lobbying efforts. Comprehensive campaigns were designed to integrate promotion efforts in AAPI consumer, retail, and business communities. Conclusions: The documents show that the tobacco industry developed specific promotion strategies to target the AAPI population. Tobacco control initiatives in the AAPI group have been slower to develop than in other targeted ethnic groups, and may benefit by increased awareness of industry methods to promote tobacco use.