Animal dietary studies related to human colorectal carcinogenesis are usually based on AIN-76A diet, which is dissimilar to human food in source, preparation, and content. Our aim was to examine colonic epithelial proliferation in rats fed a diet based on the mean daily food intake of adenoma patients. Foods were prepared as reported by the adenoma patients and dehydrated; 64 Sprague-Dawley rats were fed either "human adenoma" or AIN-76A diet and every eight weeks, eight from each group were sacrificed. Both groups gained weight equally, had no colonic histological changes, but during the study showed progressive lengthening of colonic crypts (P < 0.01) and decreased proliferation (P < 0.05) in distal colons. Compared to controls, rats fed human adenoma diet had significantly longer crypts (P < 0.01) and more labeled cells (P < 0.05) at 32 weeks; overall they had increased proliferation (P < 0.01), most significantly in the distal colon. Thus, food eaten by adenoma patients induced hyperproliferative changes in the rat colon during growth and maturity, especially the distal colon, as found in humans at risk for neoplasia.