The human gastrointestinal tract hosts a complex and vast microbial community with up to 10(11) - 10(12) microorganisms colonizing the colon. The gut microbiota has a serious effect on homeostasis and pathogenesis through a number of mechanisms. In recent years, the relationship between the intestinal microbiota and sporadic colorectal cancer has attracted much scientific interest. Mechanisms underlying colonic carcinogenesis include the conversion of procarcinogenic diet-related factors to carcinogens and the stimulation of procarcinogenic signaling pathways in luminal epithelial cells. Understanding each of these mechanisms will facilitate future studies, leading to the development of novel strategies for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of colorectal cancer. In this review, we discuss the relationship between colorectal cancer and the intestinal microbiota.