Epidemiological studies have shown that high serum levels of insulin-like growth factor-I are associated with an increased risk of colon and other types of cancer. The aim of this study was to determine whether short intervention with dietary tomato lycopene extract will affect serum levels of the insulin-like growth factor system components in colon cancer patients. The study had a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled design. Colon cancer patients (n=56), candidates for colectomy, were recruited from the local community a few days to a few weeks before surgery. Personal and medical data were recorded. Plasma concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I and II and insulin-like growth factor-I-binding protein-3 were assayed by routine laboratory methods. Lycopene was assayed by high-performance liquid chromatography. Plasma lycopene levels increased by twofold after supplementation with tomato lycopene extract. In the placebo-treated group, there was a small nonsignificant increase in lycopene plasma levels. The plasma concentration of insulin-like growth factor-I decreased significantly by about 25% after tomato lycopene extract supplementation as compared with the placebo-treated group (P<0.05). No significant change was observed in insulin-like growth factor-I-binding protein-3 or insulin-like growth factor-II, whereas the insulin-like growth factor-I/insulin-like growth factor-I-binding protein-3 molar ratio decreased significantly (P<0.05). Given that high plasma levels of insulin-like growth factor-I have been suggested as a risk factor for various types of cancer including colon cancer, the results support our suggestion that tomato lycopene extract has a role in the prevention of colon and possibly other types of cancer.