Cancers of the intestine are amongst the most frequent tumors in the Western countries. They arise through the stepwise, progressive disruption of cellular signalling cascades which control cell proliferation, survival and differentiation. The proto-oncogene K-ras functions as an important molecular switch linking several of these signalling pathways. Activating mutations of K-ras are found in about 50% of colorectal cancers, but their contribution to tumor initiation and progression is still poorly understood. Murine models provide excellent opportunities to identify and define the roles of genes involved in cancer formation and growth in the digestive tract. In this review, I will discuss the biological properties of oncogenic K-ras, its influence on cell signalling and its role in colorectal tumorigenesis based on recently established murine models.