The association between lifestyle and survival after colorectal cancer has received limited attention. The female sex hormone, oestrogen, has been associated with lower colorectal cancer risk and mortality after colorectal cancer. Phyto-oestrogens are plant compounds with structure similar to oestrogen, and the main sources in Western populations are plant lignans. We investigated the association between the main lignan metabolite, enterolactone and survival after colorectal cancer among participants in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort. Prediagnosis plasma samples and lifestyle data, and clinical data from time of diagnosis from 416 women and 537 men diagnosed with colorectal cancer were used. Enterolactone was measured in plasma using a liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) method. Participants were followed from date of diagnosis until death or end of follow-up. During this time, 210 women and 325 men died (170 women and 215 men died due to colorectal cancer). The Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95 % CI. Enterolactone concentrations were associated with lower colorectal cancer-specific mortality among women (HRper doubling: 0·88, 95 % CI 0·80, 0·97, P=0·0123). For men, on the contrary, enterolactone concentrations were associated with higher colorectal cancer-specific mortality (HRper doubling: 1·10, 95 % CI 1·01, 1·21, P=0·0379). The use of antibiotics affects enterolactone production, and the associations between higher enterolactone and lower colorectal cancer-specific mortality were more pronounced among women who did not use antibiotics (analysis on a subset). Our results suggest that enterolactone is associated with lower risk of mortality among women, but the opposite association was found among men.