The objectives of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial are to determine in screenees ages 55-74 at entry whether screening with flexible sigmoidoscopy (60-cm sigmoidoscope) can reduce mortality from colorectal cancer, whether screening with chest X-ray can reduce mortality from lung cancer, whether screening men with digital rectal examination (DRE) plus serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) can reduce mortality from prostate cancer, and whether screening women with CA125 and transvaginal ultrasound (TVU) can reduce mortality from ovarian cancer. Secondary objectives are to assess screening variables other than mortality for each of the interventions including sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value; to assess incidence, stage, and survival of cancer cases; and to investigate biologic and/or prognostic characterizations of tumor tissue and biochemical products as intermediate endpoints. The design is a multicenter, two-armed, randomized trial with 37,000 females and 37,000 males in each of the two arms. In the intervention arm, the PSA and CA125 tests are performed at entry, then annually for 5 years. The DRE, TVU, and chest X-ray exams are performed at entry and then annually for 3 years. Sigmoidoscopy is performed at entry and then at the 5-year point. Participants in the control arm follow their usual medical care practices. Participants will be followed for at least 13 years from randomization to ascertain all cancers of the prostate, lung, colorectum, and ovary, as well as deaths from all causes. A pilot phase was undertaken to assess the randomization, screening, and data collection procedures of the trial and to estimate design parameters such as compliance and contamination levels. This paper describes eligibility, consent, and other design features of the trial, randomization and screening procedures, and an outline of the follow-up procedures. Sample-size calculations are reported, and a data analysis plan is presented.