Background. Formal efforts to recruit smokers into cessation programs have failed to reach large segments of the smoking population. Telephone intervention may represent a viable strategy to promote smoking cessation. An even more promising approach may be a combination of brief telephone support and outreach to identified smokers. Methods. Telephone support for smoking cessation was provided to four identified smoker populations in Bloomington, Minn, one of three Minnesota Heart Health Program education communities. Smokers were randomly assigned to an intervention consisting of two 15-minute telephone calls approximately 1 to 3 weeks apart or to a nonintervention control. Results. At the 6-month followup, a significant overall effect was found in favor of the itnervention condition for both self-reported and cotinine-validated quitting. Differences between intervention and control conditions were no longer significant at 18 months. Conclusions. Smokers' receptivity to telephone intervention was at least moderately encouraging. The cost of intervention could be relatively low if trained volunteers initiated telephone calls. However, more intensive telephone intervention and support may be needed to produce lasting changes in smoking prevalence.