The purpose of this study is to examine the mediating effect of health professionals' recommendations on the relationship between the characteristics of older Chinese adults and the use of colorectal cancer testing. This was a cross-sectional population-based telephone survey. A total of 2004 Chinese adults aged 50 or above were recruited between 2 and 28 May 2007 to complete an anonymous telephone survey. The survey covered demographics, perceived health status and susceptibility to cancer, utilization of complementary medicine, family history of cancer, and cancer screening behaviour. The uptake of flexible sigmoidoscopy/colonoscopy was 12%, of which only 3.4% had been recommended by health professionals. The effects of gender, a history of serious disease, perceptions related to health status and visiting doctor regularly on the flexible sigmoidoscopy/colonoscopy uptake were mediated by a health professional's recommendation. A health professional's recommendation can be a catalyst for the decision of undergoing a colorectal cancer screening test in older adult people, in particular for those who are more health-conscious. As health professionals can play a crucial role in the development of successful population-based colorectal cancer screening program, efforts should be made to facilitate them in making recommendations for colorectal cancer screening to targeted high-risk group.