We are becoming increasingly aware of inherited genetic abnormalities as causes of disease. However, alterations in gene expression can also contribute to other disease processes. Recently it has been suggested that our environment may alter such genes and thus be a direct influence on disease. Diet is a potent mechanism for altering the environment of cells of most organs, particularly the gastrointestinal tract. This review addresses the influence of nutritional factors on intestinal gene regulation. These influences include insulin, which is not a dietary component but responds to dietary changes, and butyrate, a short chain fatty acid produced by normal intestinal flora. Manipulation of diet may be a means of treating intestinal disorders. Nutritional treatment therefore is also discussed in the light of its effect on gene expression.