Because of the potential significance of colonic bacteria and secondary bile acids in the pathogenesis of colon cancer, the present study investigated the effect of different types of dietary fiber on fecal bacterial enzymes, namely, beta-glucuronidase, 7 alpha-dehydroxylase, nitroreductase, and azoreductase, and on bile acids and neutral sterols in premenopausal women. The subjects consumed 13-15 g of wheat, oat, or corn bran daily for 8 weeks in addition to their normal diet. Stools collected during the normal and fiber diet periods were analyzed for the above constituents. Dietary wheat bran decreased the concentrations of fecal deoxycholic acid, lithocholic acid, 12-ketolithocholic acid, and neutral sterols and the activities of all bacterial enzymes. Oat bran had no effect on secondary bile acids and 7 alpha-dehydroxylase but decreased beta-glucuronidase, nitroreductase, and azoreductase levels. Dietary corn bran increased 7 alpha-dehydroxylase, lithocholic acid, and cholesterol levels and decreased deoxycholic acid coprostanol, cholestenone, nitroreductase, and azoreductase levels. These results show that the modifying effect of dietary fiber on secondary bile acids and bacterial enzymes that may play a role in carcinogenesis depends on the type of fiber consumed.