The authors compared dietary pattern methods-cluster analysis, factor analysis, and index analysis-with colorectal cancer risk in the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-AARP Diet and Health Study (n = 492,306). Data from a 124-item food frequency questionnaire (1995-1996) were used to identify 4 clusters for men (3 clusters for women), 3 factors, and 4 indexes. Comparisons were made with adjusted relative risks and 95% confidence intervals, distributions of individuals in clusters by quintile of factor and index scores, and health behavior characteristics. During 5 years of follow-up through 2000, 3,110 colorectal cancer cases were ascertained. In men, the vegetables and fruits cluster, the fruits and vegetables factor, the fat-reduced/diet foods factor, and all indexes were associated with reduced risk; the meat and potatoes factor was associated with increased risk. In women, reduced risk was found with the Healthy Eating Index-2005 and increased risk with the meat and potatoes factor. For men, beneficial health characteristics were seen with all fruit/vegetable patterns, diet foods patterns, and indexes, while poorer health characteristics were found with meat patterns. For women, findings were similar except that poorer health characteristics were seen with diet foods patterns. Similarities were found across methods, suggesting basic qualities of healthy diets. Nonetheless, findings vary because each method answers a different question.