The experiments reported are part of our effort to dissociate the tumor-enhancing effects of dietary fat and high caloric intake. Rats either were fed ad libitum diets containing 4% corn oil or their calories were restricted by 40% and their diets contained 13.1% corn oil. Incidence of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA)-induced mammary tumors was 80% in rats fed ad libitum and 20% in those fed the calorie-restricted diets. Incidence of 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH)-induced colon tumors was 100% in rats fed ad libitum and 53% in those whose caloric intake was restricted by 40%. The tumor yield (tumors per tumor-bearing rat) was significantly lower in rats on caloric restriction. In another series, rats were fed diets containing 5, 15 or 20% corn oil ad libitum or were fed calorie-restricted (by 25%) diets which provided 20 or 26.6% corn oil (therefore, the same absolute amount of fat was consumed in each of the pair-fed groups). Tumor incidence and tumor yield in the two calorie-restricted groups were similar to those seen in the rats fed 5% fat ad libitum; tumor burden (total g of tumor) was 45-65% lower in the calorie-restricted rats. The data suggest that caloric intake is a more stringent determinant of tumor growth than fat intake.