We compared hyperplastic-like polyps that preceded microsatellite-unstable adenocarcinomas to incidental hyperplastic polyps to identify distinguishing morphologic criteria. The study group included 106 hyperplastic-like, nonadenomatous, serrated polyps, most from the ascending colon in 91 patients; the control group included 106 rectosigmoid hyperplastic polyps from 106 patients in whom adenocarcinoma did not develop. Study group polyps had an expanded crypt proliferative zone, a serrated architectural outline that became apparent in the basilar crypt regions, basilar crypt dilation, inverted crypts, and a predominance of dysmaturational crypts (crypts with minimal cell maturation). In contrast, control group polyps had a proliferative zone confined to the basal crypt region, serrated architecture that became apparent in the superficial crypt region, rare to no basilar crypt dilation, and rare or no dysmaturational crypts. Hyperplastic-like polyps that preceded microsatellite-unstable adenocarcinomas had a distinctive constellation of morphologic features related to altered and decreased cell function and control that resulted in dysmaturational crypts. Dysmaturation constitutes a range of morphologic alterations, some of which overlap with incidental-type innocuous hyperplastic polyps. The morphologic features described herein provide initial guidelines to identify this potentially important subset of premalignant serrated-like polyps.