Primary prevention of colonic adenomas and cancer through dietary interventions or chemoprevention has great appeal. This article discusses primary prevention goals and promising nutritional or chemopreventive strategies. There is substantial observational evidence that diets high in total calories and fat and or low in fruits and vegetables or total fiber as well as low levels of physical activity are related to the risk of colonic neoplasia. Similar observational data indicate that diets high in specific nutrients such as antioxidant vitamins or calcium may be protective. The article describes some of the newer chemopreventive agents and reviews the data linking diet and lifestyle to colorectal cancer risk, focusing on interventions that have also been studied in prospective clinical trials. Finally the evidence supporting the role of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the chemoprevention of CRC is reviewed and the status of several other promising newer agents that are entering human trials is summarized.