The approximate expressions for the differential inelastic scattering. cross sections of electrons in a medium are proposed from distant and close interactions using generalized oscillator strength. The approximate total inelastic scattering cross section of electrons in a medium is calculated by using the presented expressions for distant and close interactions. For several media, the calculated K- and L-shell electron-impact ionization cross sections, total electron-impact ionization cross sections and inelastic mean free paths and collision stopping powers of electrons are compared to other theoretical and experimental values available from the literature. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.