The association between oral contraceptive (OC) use and colorectal cancer was examined in 190 female colorectal cancer cases and 200 age-matched female controls in data derived from a population-based study of large bowel cancer, "The Melbourne Colorectal Cancer Study" conducted in Melbourne, Australia. There were 47 cases (24 colon cancer, 23 rectal cancer cases) and 39 controls, who were past OC users. After adjustment was made for the confounding factors of age, number of children and age at birth of first child, a statistically significant risk was found among rectal cancer OC users, but not among colon cancer OC users (RR rectal cancer = 2.04, 95% CI = 1.00-4.14, p = 0.04; RR colon cancer = 1.17, 95% CI = 0.59-2.29, p = 0.60). These risks were not affected by adjustment for socioeconomic level, country of birth, religion, previous diet and family history of colorectal cancer. Rectal cancer risk was higher among those OC users who were also beer drinkers (RR = 6.96, 95% CI 2.09-23.1, p = 0.001).