The human DOC-2/DAB2 interactive protein (hDAB2IP) gene is a novel member of the Ras GTPase-activating family and has been demonstrated to be a tumour-suppressor gene inactivated by methylation in several cancers. In this study, we analysed the methylation and expression status of hDAB2IP in gastrointestinal tumours. The promoter region of hDAB2IP was divided into two regions (m2a and m2b) based on our previous report, and the methylation status was determined by bisulphite DNA sequencing in gastric cancer cell lines. The gene expression was semiquantified by real-time RT-PCR, and the results indicated that the m2b promoter region might be an authentic methylation-mediated key regulator of the gene expression. Based on the sequence data, we developed a methylation-specific PCR (MSP) for the m2a and m2b regions and applied it to the samples. Methylation-specific PCR revealed aberrant methylation in the m2a region in eight of 12 gastric cancer cell lines (67%), 16 of 35 gastric cancer tissues (46%) and 29 of 60 colorectal cancer tissues (48%), and in the m2b region in eight of 12 cell lines (67%), 15 of 35 gastric cancer tissues (43%) and 28 of 60 colorectal cancer tissues (47%). On the other hand, seven (12%) and 11 (19%) of 59 gastrointestinal nonmalignant mucosal specimens showed methylation in the m2a and m2b regions, respectively, suggesting that hDAB2IP methylation might play a causative role in carcinogenesis. The 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine treatment restored the gene expression in the m2b-methylated cell lines, confirming that the methylation caused gene downregulation. We also examined the relationship between hDAB2IP methylation and the clinicopathological features in patients with primary tumours, and determined that methylation in the m2b region was associated with location of the tumour in the stomach. In summary, our results demonstrated that hDAB2IP methylation is frequently present in gastrointestinal tumours and that the resulting gene silencing plays an important role in gastrointestinal carcinogenesis.