BACKGROUND: Preoperative prediction of lymph node (LN) status is integral to determining the most appropriate treatment strategy for colorectal cancer (CRC). This study aimed to develop and validate a nomogram to predict LN metastasis in CRC preoperatively. METHODS: A total of 530 patients were enrolled and divided into training and validation cohorts. The tumour stroma percentage (TSP) of the preoperative biopsies was assessed. The risk factors for LN metastasis were selected, and a nomogram was constructed subsequently. The performance of the nomogram was assessed by using the AUROC and the calibration curve, and then validated in the validation cohort. RESULTS: High TSP was significantly associated with LN metastasis in both the training and validation cohorts. Computed tomography (CT)-reported T stage, CT-reported LN status, preoperative tumour differentiation, carcinoembryonic antigen, carbohydrate antigen 19-9 and TSP were independent predictors of LN metastasis in CRC. A nomogram incorporating the six predictors was constructed. The nomogram yielded good discrimination and calibration, with an AUROC of 0.846 (95% CI: 0.807 -0.886) and 0.809 (95% CI: 0.745-0.872) in the training and validation cohorts, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Assessment of TSP in the preoperative biopsies provided additional information about the LN status. The nomogram was useful for tailored therapy in CRC preoperatively.