Cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) is a key enzyme involved in the metabolic activation of procarcinogens such as N-nitrosoamines and low-molecular-weight organic compounds. The main aim of this study was to determine whether CYP450 2E1 polymorphisms are associated with the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC). We investigated the genotype distribution of the CYP2E1 gene RsaI and a 96-base pair (bp) insertion in 86 CRC cases in comparison with 160 healthy subjects. We found the frequency of the CYP2E1 RsaI genotype to be 53.5 per cent (46/86) for c1/c1, 17.4 per cent (15/86) for c1/c2 and 29.1 per cent (25/86) for c2/c2, and the CYP2E1 98-bp insertion frequencies to be 63.9 per cent (55/86) for non-insertion (i/i), 22.1 per cent (19/86) for heterozygous insertion (i/I) and 36.0 per cent (12/86) for homozygous insertion (I/I) among CRC cases. We also found the CYP2E1 RsaI c2/c2 and CYP2E1 98-bp heterozygous i/I genotypes to be significantly associated with an increased risk of CRC (p = 0.01). We suggest that CYP2E1 polymorphisms are involved in the susceptibility to developing CRC in the ethnic Kashmiri population.