We determined whether intakes of the main dietary carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein plus zeaxanthin, and lycopene) and of vitamins A, C, and E were associated with the prevalence of colorectal adenomas among male and female members of a prepaid health plan in Los Angeles who underwent sigmoidoscopy (n = 488 matched pairs). Participants, ages 50-74 years, completed a 126-item semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire and a non-dietary questionnaire from 1991 to 1993. In the univariate-matched analysis, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene (with and without supplements), beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein plus zeaxanthin, vitamin A (with and without supplements), and vitamin C (with and without supplements) were associated with a decreased prevalence of colorectal adenomas. After adjustment for intake of calories, saturated fat, folate, fiber, and alcohol, and for current smoking status, body mass index, race, physical activity, and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, only beta-carotene including supplements was inversely associated with adenomas (odds ratio (OR), 0.6; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.41.1; trend, P= 0.04; ORs compare highest to lowest quartiles0; vitamin C showed a weaker inverse association (OR, 0.8; 95% CI, 0.5-1.5; trend, P = 0.08); and the remaining compounds were no longer clearly associated with risk. After including beta-carotene with supplements and vitamin C simultaneously in the mutivariate model, the association of beta-carotene with supplements with adenomas was weakened (OR, 0.8; 95% CI, 0.5-1.3; trend P = 0.15), and vitamin C was no longer associated with risk. These data provide only modest support for a protective association of beta-carotene with colorectal adenomatous polyps.