The transcription factor YB-1 is expressed in a wide range of cell types and has been implicated in the regulation of various genes involved in cell proliferation. Nuclear expression of YB-1 is correlated with MDR-1 gene expression in breast cancer and osteosarcoma. In this study, we asked whether YB-1 expression is enhanced in human colorectral carcinoma and if it is associated with the expression of target genes such as MDR-1, DNA topoisomerase II alpha and PCNA. YB-1, DNA topoisomerase II alpha, PCNA and MDR-1 expression were assessed by Western blotting, Northern blotting and immunohistochemistry in 26 human colorectal carcinomas. The involvement of YB-1 in DNA topoisomerase II alpha gene expression was examined by transient DNA transfection assays. YB-1 was overexpressed in almost all cancerous lesions in comparison with normal mucosa in surgically resected colorectal carcinomas of 26 patients. YB-1 expression correlated well with both DNA topoisomerase II alpha and PCNA expression. In contrast, no correlation was observed between YB-1 and MDR-1 expression. We also found that a transient co-transfection with a DNA topoisomerase II alpha promoter-luciferase plasmid and an antisense YB-1 expression construct resulted in a significant reduction of the promoter activity in KM12C human colon cancer cells. YB-1 may be an excellent proliferation-associated marker and may be a transcription factor regulating DNA topoisomerase II alpha gene expression in human colorectal carcinoma.