The topographical distribution of complete and incomplete types of intestinal metaplasia in human stomach samples was investigated in order to elucidate their mutual histogenetic relationship and significance in carcinogenesis. Subgross stereomicroscopic examination of alcian blue and hematoxylin-stained gastric mucosae allowed clear distinction of complete and incomplete intestinal metaplasia types as white (with or without purple hue) and purple foci, respectively, against the background magenta areas of non-intestinalized mucosa. Intestinal metaplasias which developed in the fundic area were predominantly of the complete type whereas those of the antrum were a mixture of both with a distinct predilection for expression of the incomplete type. Although there was some variation among foci regarding the hue of white or purple, the color feature was principally homogeneous within each individual intestinal metaplasia focus. Thus phenotypic analysis indicated intestinal metaplasia expression to be clearly influenced by intragastric topography. The study did not provide any evidence that a shift from incomplete to complete type intestinal metaplasia may occur with time or that the incomplete type may be more intimately associated with development of well-differentiated carcinomas.