The prognostic value of stage of lymph node metastases was evaluated in 357 patients who underwent curative resection for colorectal cancer. Subdivision of Dukes C patients according to the number of positive nodes revealed that the five-year disease-free survival rate (5DFS) was 63 percent in the patients with one to three nodes and 53 percent in those with four or more nodes (not significantly different). Classification according to the location revealed that 5DFS was 70 percent in those who had only local node metastases (n1+), compared with 40 percent in those who had distant node metastases along the major vessels (n2+) (P < 0.001). Twelve of 38 n2+ patients had only one distant node metastasis with no local node involvement (skip metastasis). They had lower 5DFS than the n1+ patients who had three or more positive local nodes (35 percent vs. 57 percent). We conclude that the location, rather than the number, of nodal metastases has a higher impact on prognosis in colorectal cancer patients.