BACKGROUND Inadequate photosynthesis or oral intake of Vitamin D are associated with high incidence rates of colorectal cancer, but the dose-response relationship has not been adequately studied. METHODS Dose-response gradients from observational studies of Vitamin D intake and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D were plotted as trend lines. The point on each linear trend line corresponding to an odds ratio of 0.50 provided the prediagnostic Vitamin D intake or 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration associated with 50% lower risk compared to <100IU/day Vitamin D or <13ng/ml serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Medians of these values were determined. RESULTS Overall, individuals with >or=1000IU/day oral Vitamin D (p<0.0001) or >or=33ng/ml (82nmol/l) serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (p<0.01) had 50% lower incidence of colorectal cancer compared to reference values. CONCLUSIONS Intake of 1000IU/day of Vitamin D, half the safe upper intake established by the National Academy of Sciences, was associated with 50% lower risk. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D of 33ng/ml, which is known to be safe, also was associated with 50% lower risk. Prompt public health action is needed to increase intake of Vitamin D(3) to 1000IU/day, and to raise 25-hydroxyvitamin D by encouraging a modest duration of sunlight exposure.