A case-control study has been conducted to investigate the relationship between total energy intake, fibre and nutrients and colon cancer in Argentina. Cases are 110 newly diagnosed patients from 10 hospitals between 1985 and 1986. Two neighbourhood controls per case were matched on age, sex and place of residence. The intake of calories, fibre and nutrients was estimated from the information collected on food consumption during the 5-year period up to 6 months prior to interview of subjects, based on a pilot study and standard portion sizes in Argentina. In conditional regression models, dietary fibre is highly protective (odds ratio (OR) = 0.07 per 19.02 g/day; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.02 to 0.25) and total energy intake increases risk (RR = 1.82 per 1000 kcal/day; 95% CI: 1.20 to 2.77), each with adjustment for the other. Analysis of caloric components (fat, protein and carbohydrates) reveals that carbohydrates are the most important factor driving the total energy effect. Other nutrients make little apparent contribution to risk.