Overexpression of the transcriptional repressor, SNAIL, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a number of malignancies; however, there are no previous reports on the role of SNAIL in colorectal cancers (CRCs). We, therefore, evaluated human CRC specimens for the presence of the SNAIL protein. Immunohistochemical studies were performed using samples obtained from archived CRC paraffin blocks and a tissue array. Tissue sections were probed with a polyclonal antibody to human SNAIL and scored by a gastrointestinal pathologist. SNAIL was not detectable in uninvolved mucosa, but immunoreactivity was evident in 78% of tumors. SNAIL protein expression did not correlate with subsite location or gender, however, SNAIL-positive tumors had an older mean age (58.9 +/- 12.7 versus 49.8 +/- 127; P = 0.028). Furthermore, there was a trend that CRCs with metastatic ability more frequently overexpressed SNAIL (100 versus 65%; P = 0.11). In conclusion, we demonstrate, for the first time, that SNAIL is upregulated in human colon cancer, which potentially may have significance in control of metastasis and possibly serve as a target for chemopreventive agents.