We investigated expression levels of Na(+),K(+)-ATPase alpha-isoforms and their ATPase activities in human colorectal cancer tissue and the accompanying normal mucosa. A decrease in expression of the alpha1-isoform protein was observed in all sampled cancer tissues compared with the normal mucosae. The level of ouabain (5 microM)-sensitive Na(+),K(+)-ATPase activity in carcinomas was 81+/-5% that of in the normal mucosae. The mRNA expression of alpha2- and alpha 4-isoforms was decreased in almost all the carcinoma samples. Interestingly, the expression level of the alpha 3-isoform protein in the cancer tissue was higher than that of the normal mucosa. These results indicate that a decrease in the alpha1-isoform expression and an increase in the alpha 3-isoform expression may be associated with colorectal cancer.