UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) 1A1 is involved in the inactivation of estradiol (E2) and its oxidized metabolites. These metabolites have been shown to contribute to the development of endometrial cancer in animal studies. Thus UGT1A1 represents a candidate gene in endometrial carcinogenesis. In this study, we established the substrate specificity of UGT1A1 for E 2 and its 2- and 4-hydroxylated metabolites. Intrinsic clearances indicated that UGT1A1 had a preference for the glucuronidation of 2-hydroxyestradiol, a metabolite associated with antiproliferative activity. Expression analysis demonstrated that UGT1A1 is present in the nonmalignant endometrium. Subsequently, we sought to determine whether the common UGT1A1 promoter allele, UGT1A1*28 [A(TA)7TAA], which decreases gene transcription, was associated with endometrial cancer risk in a case control study nested within the Nurses' Health Study (222 cases, 666 matched controls). Conditional logistic regression demonstrated a significant inverse association with the UGT1A1*28 allele and endometrial cancer risk. Compared with women homozygous for the UGT1A1*1 [A(TA)6TAA] allele, the adjusted odds ratio (OR) was 0.81 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.56-1.16] for the UGT1A1*1/*28 genotype and 0.40 (95% CI, 0.21-0.75) for the homozygous UGT1A1*28 genotype (Ptrend = 0.007). There was a suggestion of an interaction by menopausal status [OR = 0.39 (95% CI, 0.18-0.85) for premenopausal women and OR = 0.79 (95% CI, 0.55-1.13) for postmenopausal women who carry the UGT1A1*28 allele (Pinteraction = 0.05)]. These observations suggest that lower expression of UGT1A1 decreases the risk of endometrial cancer by reducing the excretion of 2-hydroxyestradiol, the antiproliferative metabolite of E2, in the endometrium.