Resistant starch is by definition that part of starch that escapes digestion in the small bowel. Cecal fermentation of resistant starch into short-chain fatty acids will result subsequently in a decrease in pH. Thus, resistant starch may have the same effect on colonic luminal contents and mucosa as some fiber components. We studied the effects of adding 45 g native amylomaize (Hylon-VII) to a standardized diet in 14 healthy volunteers on fermentation and colonic mucosal proliferation. Hylon-VII is a high amylose maize starch, containing 62% resistant starch. During amylomaize consumption, breath hydrogen excretion rose 85% and fecal short chain fatty acid output increased 35% (P < 0.01). Excretion of primary bile acids increased and the soluble deoxycholic acid concentration decreased by 50% (P = 0.002). Subsequently, cytotoxicity of the aqueous phase of feces--as measured on a colon cancer cell line--decreased (P = 0.007). Colonic mucosal proliferation in rectal biopsies (proliferating cell nuclear antigen immunostaining) decreased from 6.7 to 5.4% (P = 0.05). We speculate that resistant starch consumption decreases colonic mucosal proliferation as a result of the decreased formation of cytotoxic secondary bile acids, which is possibly mediated through acidification of the large bowel by production of short-chain fatty acids.