Canadian guidelines recommend colorectal-cancer (CRC) screening for individuals aged 50 to 74 years. The study objective was to estimate rates of CRC screening according to individual and geographical characteristics, and of adherence to current CRC screening guidelines. Respondents to the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 2.1 (aged >or= 50 years, without past or present CRC) participated. Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and endoscopy utilization and screening rates were calculated. The sample included 16,747 residents of Newfoundland, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Overall, the FOBT screening rate was 7.7% in the past year, and the endoscopy screening rate was 8.8% in the past 5 years. FOBT screening rates were higher in older and male respondents; endoscopy screening rates were higher in older respondents. Individuals aged 50 to 59 and over 90 years were least likely to have been screened. Approximately 70% of respondents were non-adherent to current CRC screening guidelines. Non-adherence rates were higher in most health regions of British Columbia. National survey data suggest CRC screening in Canada is low; younger persons and residents of British Columbia were least likely to report CRC screening.