Vitamin D has recently emerged as a potentially protective agent against colorectal neoplasia. We assessed the associations between dietary vitamin D, plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], dietary calcium, and colorectal adenomas in a large screening sigmoidoscopy-based case-control study in Southern California. Because conversion of serum 25(OH)D to serum 1,25-vitamin D is highly regulated by serum calcium, we also assessed modification of the 25(OH)D-adenoma association by calcium intake. Cases were 473 subjects with a primary adenoma, and controls were 507 subjects who had no adenomas at sigmoidoscopy and no history of adenomas. Compared with those in the lowest quartile of intake, those in the highest quartile of dietary vitamin D had an adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 0.83 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.49-1.41] and those in the highest quartile of dietary calcium had an OR of 0.82 (95% CI = 0.49-1.25). There was a suggestion that plasma 25(OH)D may be protective in this population (OR for highest vs. lowest quartile = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.51-1.09). A significant protective effect of 25(OH)D was clearly evident only in those with calcium intakes below (OR = 0.40 for highest vs. lowest quartile, 95% CI = 0.22-0.71, p for trend = 0.005) and above (OR = 1.17, 95% CI = 0.69-1.99, p for trend = 0.94) the median calcium intake.