Folate may be inversely related to colorectal cancer risk, possibly in combination with low methionine and high alcohol consumption. We considered, therefore, the relation between folate and colorectal cancer in a multicentric case-control study of 1,953 cases and 4,154 controls from Italy, i.e., a population with frequent regular alcohol drinking. In the overall data set, the odds ratio (OR) was 0.72 for the highest quintile of folate, and the continuous OR per 100 μg was 0.86. The inverse relation was similar in men and women and somewhat stronger for the rectum (OR = 0.59 for the highest quintile) compared to the colon (OR = 0.81). It was also somewhat stronger in the highest tertile of alcohol drinking (OR = 0.65), though trends were not heterogeneous across strata of alcohol, whereas no appreciable difference was observed across strata of methionine intake. Compared to subjects reporting low alcohol, high methionine and high folate intake, the OR was 1.83 for those reporting high alcohol, low methionine and low folate intake. The present findings support a favorable role of folate in colorectal carcinogenesis. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.