Animal models provide researchers with powerful tools to elucidate multistage mechanisms for cancer development and to gain further insights into the biological roles of various cancer-related genes in in vivo situations. As for colon cancer models in rodents, Apc-disrupted mice, including ApcMin, have been one of the most widely utilized animal models to dissect the molecular events implicated in the development of intestinal tumors. In rats, several models have been established using chemical carcinogens, including azoxymethane and 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo-[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP). The former is a representative colon carcinogenic alkylating agent, and the latter a heterocyclic amine produced while cooking meat and fish, which people are exposed to in ordinary life. It is of great importance to note that PhIP preferentially targets the colon and prostate gland in male rats, and the mammary glands in female rats. Cancers in these three organs are common in Western countries and are currently increasing in Japan, where modern dietary habits are rapidly becoming more like those of the West. In the present article, the history of PhIP-induced colon cancer models in rodents, activation/detoxification mechanisms of PhIP with regard to the formation of PhIP-DNA adducts, mechanistic approaches to dissect the molecular events involved in the development of colon cancer by PhIP, and epidemiological evidence of human exposure to PhIP are overviewed. The induction of Paneth cell maturation/differentiation in PhIP-induced colon cancers, genetic traits affecting susceptibility to colon carcinogenesis, and the biological relevance of colon cancer models in rodents to studying human colon carcinogenesis are also discussed.