Estrogen is metabolized along two competing pathways to form the 2-hydroxylated and the 16alpha-hydroxylated metabolites. Based on proposed differences in biological activities, the ratio of these metabolites, 2-hydroxyestrogen:16alpha-hydroxyestrone (2:16alpha-OHE1), has been used as a biomarker for breast cancer risk. Women with an elevated 2:16alpha-OHE1 ratio are hypothesized to be at a decreased risk of breast cancer. Flaxseed, the most significant source of plant lignans, and wheat bran, an excellent source of dietary fiber, have both been shown to have chemoprotective benefits. Some of these benefits may be attributable to their influence on endogenous sex hormone production and metabolism. We examined the effect of flaxseed consumption alone and in combination with wheat bran on urinary estrogen metabolites in premenopausal women. Sixteen premenopausal women were studied for four feeding treatments lasting two menstrual cycles each in a randomized cross-over design. During the four feeding treatments, subjects consumed their usual diets supplemented with baked goods containing no flaxseed or wheat bran, 10 g of flaxseed, 28 g of wheat bran, or 10 g of flaxseed plus 28 g of wheat bran/day. Urinary excretion of 2-hydroxyestrogen and 16alpha-hydroxyestrone, as well as their ratio, 2:16alpha-OHE1, were measured by enzyme immunoassay. Flaxseed supplementation significantly increased the urinary 2:16alpha-OHE1 ratio (P = 0.034), but wheat bran had no effect. These results suggest that flaxseed may be chemoprotective in premenopausal women.