Evidence of a role for steroid hormones and reproduction in colon neoplasia remains tantalizing but unclear. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been reported in a number of recent studies to be associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. A case-control study was undertaken to establish whether HRT is associated with lower risk of adenomatous polyps. This case-control study was undertaken as a project of the Minnesota Cancer Prevention Research Unit. Cases (n = 219) were women, ages 30-74 years with colonoscopy-proven, pathology-confirmed, adenomatous polyps of colon and rectum recruited at Digestive Healthcare PA (Minneapolis, MN). Two control groups were selected: women without polyps at colonoscopy (n = 438) at Digestive Healthcare and age- and zip code-matched women selected from the general community (n = 247). Response rates were 68% among those colonoscoped and 65% among community controls. Parity, age at first live birth, and oral contraceptive use did not distinguish cases from either control group. Multivariate adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence limits for use of HRT for less than 5 years (compared with never use) among postmenopausal women were 0.52 (0.32-0.85) versus colonoscopy-negative controls and 0.74 (0.44-1.26) versus community controls. For 5 years of use or greater, the corresponding figures were 0.39 (0.23-0.67) and 0.61 (0.34-1.07). These results were not materially different when stratified on body mass index, oophorectomy, hysterectomy, aspirin use, or family history. There is no marked increase in risk even 5 years after cessation of HRT use. HRT appears to lower risk of colorectal adenomatous polyps, suggesting that it acts quite early in the neoplastic process. Mechanisms remain unclear. Reduction of risk of colorectal neoplasia is an additional benefit of postmenopausal HRT.