The development and dissemination of sophisticated detection technologies have recently exposed the high prevalence of preinvasive colorectal neoplasia in the adult U.S. population. Although cancer screening and surveillance provide opportunities for risk stratification, they achieve risk reduction only when coupled with effective interventions. This review surveys the lead compounds for colorectal cancer prevention and the measures by which they may be prioritized for clinical testing. Clinical trials remain the rate-limiting step in agent development, and novel trial designs are needed to hasten agent identification and testing for cancer prevention. Innovative research models include the nesting of prevention end points within cancer treatment trials and within trials testing promising preventive compounds intended for nononcologic indications.