We prospectively examined the association between coffee consumption and the risk of developing colorectal cancer in a large population-based cohort study (the JPHC Study) of Japanese men and women. Data were analyzed from a population-based cohort of 96,162 subjects (46,023 men and 50,139 women). A total of 1,163 incident colorectal cancers were identified during the follow-up period, including 763 cases of colon cancer and 400 of rectal cancer. We observed a significant inverse association between coffee consumption and the risk of developing invasive colon cancer among women. Compared with those who almost never consumed coffee, women who regularly consumed 3 or more cups of coffee per day had a RR of 0.44 (95% CI = 0.19–1.04; p for trend = 0.04) after adjustment for potential confounding factors. However, no significant association was found for rectal cancer in women. In men, no significant decrease was observed in any colorectal cancer site. Further, additional analyses on the association of green tea consumption with colorectal cancer risk found no significant association in men or women. These findings suggest that coffee consumption may lower the risk of colon cancer among Japanese women. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.