The effect of 1alpha-hydroxyvitamin D3 (1alpha(OH)D3) on gastrointestinal carcinogenesis induced by N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG) was investigated in male Wistar rats. After oral treatment with 0.01% MNNG for 24 weeks, rats were given 0.04 microg of 1alpha(OH)D3 or its vehicle by gastric intubation three times a week for 24 weeks. The incidence of gastrointestinal tumors was 16/30 (53%) in rats treated with MNNG alone, 16/30 (53%) in those treated with MNNG plus vehicle and 8/30 (27%, P < 0.05) in those treated with MNNG plus 1alpha(OH)D3. The number of tumors per rat in the group treated with MNNG plus 1alpha(OH)D3 was half those in the control groups (P < 0.05). Results indicated that a non-hypercalcemic dose of 1alpha(OH)D3 had an inhibitory effect on MNNG-induced duodeno-intestinal carcinogenesis.