Carcinogen induction of neoplasms in rodent colon has been used as a model for human colon cancer development and for evaluating chemopreventive regimens. We studied the regional distribution of small and large intestinal tumors in 229 rats given azoxymethane (AOM) once weekly for two weeks (15 mg/kg sc). The AOM regimen induced 63% more tumors in distal (DC) than in proximal colon (PC), although tumor volume was greater in PC. A high-fat (23% corn oil) diet increased tumors in PC and DC (p < 0.01). Caloric restriction of 10-30% of the ad libitum diet progressively reduced DC tumor formation but did not alter PC tumors. Tumor volume was unaffected by either regimen. Small intestinal tumors were concentrated in the proximal 15 cm of the intestine and were unaffected by dietary manipulation. This AOM model of colon tumor formation approximates human colon cancer distribution and is an appropriate model for rodent chemopreventive studies.