Although racial and ethnic disparities in health services utilization and outcomes have been extensively studied in several countries, this issue has received little attention in Canada. We therefore analyzed data from the 2001 Canadian Community Health Survey to compare the use of health services by members of visible minority groups and nonmembers (white people) in Canada. Logistic regression was used to compare physician contacts and hospital admissions during the 12 months before the survey and recent cancer screening tests. Explanatory variables recorded from the survey included visible minority status, sociodemographic factors and health measures. Respondents included 7057 members of visible minorities and 114,255 white people for analysis. After adjustments for sociodemographic and health characteristics, we found that minority members were more likely than white people to have had contact with a general practitioner (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.28, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.14-1.42), but not specialist physicians (OR 1.01, 95% CI 0.93-1.10). Members of visible minorities were less likely to have been admitted to hospital (OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.70- 0.98), tested for prostate-specific antigen (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.52-0.79), administered a mammogram (OR 0.68, 95% CI 0.59-0.80) or given a Pap test (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.39-0.56). Use of health services in Canada varies considerably by ethnicity according to type of service. Although there is no evidence that members of visible minorities use general physician and specialist services less often than white people, their utilization of hospital and cancer screening services is significantly less.