Early and reliable diagnosis of colorectal cancer continues to be demanding and challenging. Colorectal cancer cells express Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide (VIP) receptors in high density. We have prepared a VIP analog (TP3654), labeled it with (99m)Tc, and evaluated it in experimental animals as an agent for imaging colorectal cancer. The tissue distribution of (99m)Tc-TP3654 has been compared with that of (111)In-DTPA-Octreotide and (99m)Tc-anti-CEA scan in nude mice bearing human colorectal cancer LS174T. Finally, pharmacokinetic and tissue distribution studies of (99m)Tc-TP3654 have been performed in four normal human volunteers. Data suggest that (99m)Tc-TP3654 can be prepared efficiently without loss of its receptor specificity and biological activity. Although the 24 hr tumor uptake of (99m)Tc-TP3654 in the animal model used was modest (0.21 +/- 0.07% I.D./g), the tissue distribution profile was more favorable than that of (111)In-DTPA-Octreotide or (99m)Tc-anti-CEA scan. Human studies indicated that (99m)Tc-TP3654 had no adverse effect in any subject. Within 24 hours, approximately 70% of the injected dose cleared through the kidneys, and approximately 20% through the hepatobiliary system. In these non-fasting volunteers hepatobiliary clearance was slow and in cancer patients tumor uptake was rapid. Data suggest that (99m)Tc-TP3654 is a promising agent for imaging colorectal cancer.