Serrated adenoma has been proposed to be a distinct entity among colorectal neoplasms. Progression to frank carcinoma has been suggested in individual cases, but the prevalence of carcinomas originating from serrated adenomas and their clinico-pathological characteristics are not known. In the present study, a large series of colorectal cancers was analysed for the occurrence of serrated adenoma in association with carcinoma and clinico-pathological features were compared in cases with and without serrated adenoma. Specimens from 466 colorectal carcinoma patients undergoing operations between 1986 and 1996 were re-evaluated for the presence of juxtaposed serrated adenoma and carcinoma. Clinico-pathological features such as location, Dukes' stage, histological grade, mucinous differentiation, and prognosis were evaluated. Twenty-seven carcinomas (5.8%) were found in association with an adjacent serrated adenoma. Eight of the patients were male and 19 were female. All of these adenocarcinomas showed a serrated appearance resembling that of serrated adenomas. Nine (33%) cases were mucinous and a mucinous component was present in 11 (41%) additional cases. The majority of the tumours were located either in the caecum (14 cases; 51%) or in the rectum (9 cases; 33%). DNA microsatellite instability was more common in carcinomas associated with serrated adenoma (37.5%) than in other carcinomas (11.0%). It is concluded that carcinoma associated with serrated adenoma is a distinct type of colorectal neoplasm, accounting for 5.8% of all colorectal carcinoma cases in this study. Predilection for the caecum and the rectum may reflect their aetiological factors. Female preponderance is contrary to that reported for hyperplastic polyps and serrated adenomas.