HOX genes are well known as master control genes in embryonic morphogenesis. We hypothesized that HOX genes give cells spatial information to maintain tissue- or organ-specificity in adult body and that the deregulated expression of HOX genes results in tumor development. We established a comprehensive analysis system to quantify expression of 39 human HOX genes based on the real-time reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) method. Analysis of 39 HOX genes of 20 normal adult organs by this system revealed that 5' HOX genes were expressed in organs in the caudal parts of the body, and that the more caudal regions the more numbers of HOX genes were expressed. It was also found that the expression patterns of HOX genes were more similar in the adjacent genes on the same cluster rather than in those belonging to the same paralogs. Compared with normal thyroid tissues, thyroid cancer cell lines showed the altered expression of some HOX genes, especially Abd-B homeobox family genes. Our results showed that HOX genes were organ-specifically expressed in adult body and that the deregulated expressions of Abd-B family genes were implicated in thyroid tumor development.