The physical inactivity and obesity involved in hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia is supposed to lead to an increased bioavailability of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). The carcinogenic effect of IGF-I may be influenced by IGF binding proteins. We investigated the association between plasma levels of C-peptide, a surrogate biomarker of insulin, IGFBP-1, IGF-I or IGFBP-3, and the risk of colorectal cancer in a nested case-control study. During an 11.5-year follow-up, 375 newly diagnosed colorectal cancers were identified in a cohort of 38,373 adults who had returned the baseline questionnaire and provided blood samples. Two matched-controls for each case were selected from the cohort. The odds ratio (OR) of colorectal cancer for plasma levels of each protein was estimated using the conditional logistic regression model adjusted for potential confounding factors. We observed a statistically significant association of plasma C-peptide with colorectal cancer only in men. The ORs were 1.0, 2.3, 2.8 and 3.2 along with quartiles (p trend, 0.0072). The association was stronger in colon cancer (p trend, 0.025) than in rectal cancer (p trend, 0.24). Other peptides were not associated with the risk in either men or women. The results did not change when repeatedly analyzed by tumor invasion levels, tumor sites or follow-up periods. In conclusion, a higher plasma C-peptide may indicate a subsequent risk of colorectal cancer in Japanese men. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.