OBJECTIVES: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been inversely associated with colon cancer incidence in several epidemiologic studies. In this study we used data from a population-based incident case-control study of colon cancer to evaluate the role of HRT use in survival after diagnosis with colon cancer. METHODS: Data from 815 postmenopausal women living in Utah, California, and Minnesota diagnosed between 1 September 1991 and 30 September 1994 were used to examine associations between HRT and survival. RESULTS: After adjusting for age at time of diagnosis, stage of disease at time of diagnosis, study center, and body mass index (BMI), we observed that women who had ever used HRT had a 30% lesser probability of dying of any cause and a 40% lower probability of dying from colon cancer specifically during the follow-up period. Further evaluation by years of HRT use showed that those who had used HRT for 4 or more years had the lowest risk of dying of colon cancer (hazard rate ratio 0.5, 95% confidence interval 0.3-0.9). Evaluation of other lifestyle variables with HRT use did not show significant confounding or effect modification. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that HRT use may improve short-term survival after diagnosis with colon cancer; there is no suggestion that HRT use is detrimental to survival.