The CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) is a newly described mechanism for carcinogenesis in colorectal carcinomas and adenomas characterized by methylation of multiple CpG islands. The causes of CIMP are unknown. We studied CIMP in hyperplastic polyps (HPs), with emphasis on patients with multiple HPs (5 to 10 HPs), large HPs (one HP >1 cm) or hyperplastic polyposis (>20 HPs). Methylation of p16, MINT1, MINT2, MINT31, and hMLH1 was analyzed by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction in 102 HPs, 8 serrated adenomas, 19 tubular adenomas, and 9 adenocarcinomas from 17 patients, with multiple/large HPs or hyperplastic polyposis and in 16 sporadic HPs from 14 additional patients. Sporadic HPs were CIMP-negative (not methylated at any locus), but 43% of HPs from multiple/large HPs, or hyperplastic polyposis were CIMP-high (two or more methylated loci, P = 0.00001). Methylation among the four loci was correlated within HPs (odds ratio, 3.41; P = 0.002), and the methylation status of HPs within the same patient was also correlated (odds ratio, 5.92; P = 0.0001). CIMP-high HPs were present primarily in patients with a predominance of HPs in the right colon and/or serrated adenomas (P = 0.0009) and were associated with the absence of K-ras proto-oncogene mutations (odds ratio, 5.08; P = 0.03). Our findings of concordant CpG island methylation of HPs in multiple/large HPs or hyperplastic polyposis supports the concept that some patients have a hypermethylator phenotype characterized by methylation of multiple HPs and other colorectal lesions. The hypermethylator phenotype is related to patient-specific factors, such as carcinogenic exposure or genetic predisposition.