In an attempt to evaluate whether induced fluorescence could be exploited to discriminate neoplastic from non-neoplastic tissue, fluorescence spectroscopy was performed at 450-800 nm on 83 biopsy specimens of colonic mucosa. Measurements showed that fluorescence spectra of adenoma, adenocarcinoma and non-neoplastic mucosa manifest dissimilar patterns. Nine variables, whose photophysical and/or biological bases need further investigation, were derived from the spectra. Discriminant functions between the groups of lesions were determined by using a stepwise discriminant analysis. The diagnostic test had a sensitivity of 80.6% and 88.2%, and a specificity of 90.5% and 95.2% in discriminating neoplastic from non-neoplastic mucosa and adenoma from non-neoplastic mucosa respectively. These results suggest that fluorescence spectroscopy has the potential to improve endoscopic diagnosis of premalignant and malignant lesions of colonic mucosa.