Aberrant crypt foci (ACF) have been identified on the colonic mucosal surface of rodents treated with colon carcinogens and of humans after methylene-blue staining and observation under a light microscope. Several lines of evidence strongly suggest that ACF with certain morphological, histological, cell kinetics, and genetic features are precursor lesions of colon cancer both in rodents and in humans. Thus, ACF represent the earliest step in colorectal carcinogenesis. This paper has the main purpose of reviewing the evidence supporting this view, with particular emphasis on cell and crypt dynamics in ACF. ACF have been used as intermediate biomarkers of cancer development in animal studies aimed at the identification of colon carcinogens and chemopreventive agents. Recently, evidence has also shown that ACF can be effectively employed in chemopreventive studies also in humans.