Hyperinsulinemia may be related to colon carcinogenesis. Several studies have suggested that diabetes mellitus is related to increased risk of colon cancer. We examined cross-sectionally the relation of fasting plasma insulin levels and glucose tolerance status to colon adenomas. In a consecutive series of 951 men undergoing total colonoscopy for a health examination at the Japan Self Defense Forces Fukuoka Hospital from April 1998 to August 1999, we identified 233 cases of colon adenomas and 497 controls with normal colonoscopy. Glucose tolerance status was determined by a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test, and subjects were classified as normal, impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Plasma insulin levels were measured after subjects had fasted overnight. Logistic regression analysis and analysis of covariance was used to control for age and obesity. While plasma insulin levels were unrelated to colon adenomas, NIDDM was associated with a significantly increased risk of colon adenomas. There was no association between IGT and colon adenomas. NIDDM was more strongly associated with proximal colon adenomas. The findings suggest that long-term hyperinsulinemic status associated with NIDDM may increase the risk of colon adenomas, and subsequently of colon cancer.