Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in the western hemisphere. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 105,500 new cases of colon cancer with 57,100 deaths will occur in the U.S. in 2003, accounting for about 10% of cancer deaths. Among the colon cancer patients, hereditary risk contributes approximately 20%. The main inherited colorectal cancers are the familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and the hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancers (HNPCC). The FAP and HNPCC are caused due to mutations in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) and DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes. The focus of this review is to summarize the functions of APC and MMR gene products in the development of colorectal cancers.