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Intake of red and processed meat confers risk of colorectal cancer (CRC). We wanted to test whether heme in meat promotes carcinogenesis.Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1, HMOX1) A-413T (rs2071746) was assessed in a nested case–cohort study of 383 CRC cases and 763 randomly selected participants from a prospective study of 57 053 individuals. Incidence rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated.No association was found between the HO-1 polymorphism and CRC (P value for trend for the fully adjusted estimates=0.29). No interaction with meat intake was found (P value for interaction=0.55).The studied HO-1 polymorphism was not associated with risk of CRC suggesting that heme from meat is not important in CRC development.