The regulation of apoptotic cell death may have a profound effect on the pathogenesis and progression of colon cancer. Survivin, a member of the inhibitor of apoptosis gene family, has been detected in fetal tissue and in a variety of human malignancies. In the current study, we investigated survivin expression by an immunohistochemical approach in benign, hyperplastic, premalignant, and malignant lesions of the colon. Survivin was detected in all cases of normal colonic mucosa (20/20), hyperplastic polyps (20/20), adenomatous polyps (20/20), and in both well differentiated and moderately differentiated colonic adenocarcinomas (20/20). In the normal colonic mucosa, survivin expression was mostly restricted to the base of the colonic crypts. All epithelial cells showed uniformly intense staining for survivin in hyperplastic polyps. By contrast, adenomas and adenocarcinomas showed a heterogeneous staining pattern with cell-to-cell, gland-to-gland, and regional variability in the intensity of survivin staining. In contrast to the basal preponderance of staining in normal colonic mucosa, numerous survivin positive cells were present at the luminal surface of hyperplastic polyps, adenomatous polyps, and adenocarcinomas. In conclusion, the expression of survivin is not a specific marker of adenocarcinoma of the colon but does show characteristic and reproducible patterns of expression in non-neoplastic proliferative lesions and in normal colonic mucosa.