Rectal mucosal proliferation was measured in 116 individuals using the metaphase arrest technique crypt cell production rate (CCPR). CCPR was found to be significantly elevated in individuals with adenomas (n = 42, CCPR = 13 cc c-1h-1, range 7-25 Cl 10-15) compared with normals (n = 21, CCPR = 10 cc c-1h-1 range 5-24 Cl 7-11, Mann-Whitney P = 0.001 z = 3.2). Mucosal proliferation was increased among individuals who were undergoing adenoma follow up but in whom no further adenomas were found (n = 37 CCPR = 12 range 5-26 cc c-1h-1 Cl 10-14) compared to controls (Mann-Whitney P = 0.01 z = 2.4) Proliferation in vegetarians i.e. low risk (n = 16) was similar to controls. Measurement of proliferative indices in rectal mucosa by the stathmokinetic technique CCPR can discriminate between high and low risk groups for colorectal cancer.