The effect of 1 alpha-hydroxyvitamin D3 (1 alpha (OH)D3) on colonic tumorigenesis induced by chronic treatment with N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU) was studied in rats. Seventy-four female F344 rats received an intrarectal injection of 1 mg of MNU once a week for 40 weeks. Two-thirds of rats were given concomitant administration of 0.2 ml of medium chain triglyceride (MCT) or MCT containing 0.04 microgram of 1 alpha (OH)D3 through an intragastric route thrice weekly. Numbers of rats bearing colonic tumor were 21 in MNU alone (n = 24), 17 in MNU + MCT (n = 25) and 12 in MNU + 1 alpha (OH)D3 group (n = 25) (uncorrected chi 2 = 8.72). The result indicated that colonic tumorigenesis induced by the chronic treatment with MNU was suppressed by oral supplementation of 1 alpha (OH)D3 and the inhibitory effect of 1 alpha (OH)D3 was partly due to the effect of MCT.