In this article, we describe the characteristics of 12 human colorectal-carcinoma cell lines established from 6 primary tumors and 6 metastatic sites of 11 Korean colorectal-carcinoma patients, including the morphology in vivo and in vitro and mutations of K-ras2, p15, p16, p53, APC, beta-catenin, hMLH1 and hMSH2 genes in vitro. No lines were contaminated with Mycoplasma or bacteria. All lines were proven to be unique by DNA-fingerprinting analysis. All lines expressed the surface carcino-embryonic antigen and secreted it into the supernatant fluid. The morphological correlation between the original tumors and cultured cells suggested that the original tumors showing mucinous adenocarcinoma correlated with floating aggregates in culture, and degree of desmoplasia in the original tumor correlated with attached growth in culture. Five of the cell lines showed mutations in the K-ras2 gene, and 6 of the cell lines showed mutations in the p53 gene. The p15 gene was deleted in 2 cell lines, and the p16 gene was hypermethylated in 3 cell lines. The mutation of mismatch-repair genes (hMLH1 and hMSH2) was found in 4 lines, the APC gene and beta-catenin gene were mutated in 9 and 2 lines respectively. These well-characterized colorectal-cancer cell lines should serve as useful tools for investigating the biological characteristics of colorectal cancer.