Gastrin has been postulated to stimulate proliferation in colorectal neoplasms. Although gastrin mRNA has been demonstrated to be present in colon cancer cell lines, the intact peptide had not been recovered from human colorectal neoplasms. We demonstrate that gastrin and its precursors are present in both colorectal neoplasia and adjacent normal-appearing colonic mucosa. In colonic tissue, the glycine-extended precursor form of the peptide is over 10-fold more abundant than the amidated gastrin, and progastrin is more than 700-fold more abundant. In contrast, amidated gastrin in the human antrum is the predominant form of gastrin by a factor of 10. Furthermore, the ratio of gastrin precursors to gastrin is significantly increased in neoplastic colonic mucosa when compared with normal colonic tissue. These data suggest that the processing of gastrin is unique in the human colon and that further differences in processing occur in neoplastic colonic tissue.