The relationship between energy intake, selected nutrients and colorectal cancer was investigated in the population of Majorca, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean basin. A population-based case-control study using food frequency questionnaires was conducted during the period 1984-1988 and included 286 cases of colorectal cancer, 295 population controls and 203 hospital controls. Food composition tables and ad-hoc estimates of portion sizes were used to derive intake estimates of 29 nutrients and of total calories. Relative risks were calculated for quartiles of consumption of each specific nutrient after adjustment for total calorie intake. Colorectal cancer was found associated with dietary intake of total calories (RRs = 1.0, 1.6, 1.6, 2.6) and cholesterol (RRs = 1.0, 0.9, 1.7, 1.7) and a protective effect was associated with the intake of fibre from legumes (pulses) and folic acid. The associations and the trends were statistically significant. Among the main energy-supplying nutrients, after adjustment for calories from other sources, increased risks were found for protein (RRs = 1.0, 1.1, 1.7, 2.5), notably animal protein, and carbohydrates (RRs = 1.0, 1.5, 1.4, 2.2), whereas no effects were found for increased consumption of lipids or saturated fats.