Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common forms of cancer in Western countries. CRC has been associated with genetic and lifestyle factors. Individual susceptibility to CRC may be due partly to variations in detoxification capacity in the gastrointestinal tract. Genetic polymorphisms in detoxification enzymes may result in variations in detoxification activities, which subsequently might influence the levels of toxic/carcinogenic compounds, and this may influence the risk for CRC. Therefore, we determined whether polymorphisms in the genes coding for microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX1), NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1), cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) and alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH3) predispose to the development of CRC. DNA samples were obtained from 371 patients with sporadic CRC and 415 healthy controls. Patients and controls were all of Caucasian origin. All genetic polymorphisms were determined by polymerase chain reaction, eventually followed by restriction-fragment-length-polymorphism analyses, except for the EPHX1 codon 113 polymorphism, which was genotyped by an allele-specific discrimination assay. Calculation of crude Odds Ratios (ORs) revealed an increased risk for CRC associated with variant NQO1 (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1-2.0) and CYP2E1 intron 6 genotypes (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.3-3.8). However, after adjustment for age and gender, logistic regression analyses only showed a statistically significant risk for CRC associated with variant NQO1 genotypes (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.03-2.4). No associations were found between CRC and the other polymorphic genes as mentioned above. In conclusion, these data suggest that the presence of variant NQO1 genotypes, with expected reduced enzyme activities might enhance susceptibility to CRC.