Colorectal cancer (CRC) is often diagnosed at a late stage with concomitant poor prognosis. Early detection greatly improves prognosis; however, the invasive, unpleasant and inconvenient nature of current diagnostic procedures limits their applicability. No serum-based test is currently of sufficient sensitivity or specificity for widespread use. In the best currently available blood test, carcinoembryonic antigen exhibits low sensitivity and specificity particularly in the setting of early disease. Hence, there is great need for new biomarkers for early detection of CRC. We have used surface-enhanced laser desorbtion/ionisation (SELDI) to investigate the serum proteome of 62 CRC patients and 31 noncancer subjects. We have identified proteins (complement C3a des-arg, alpha1-antitrypsin and transferrin) with diagnostic potential. Artificial neural networks trained using only the intensities of the SELDI peaks corresponding to identified proteins were able to classify the patients used in this study with 95% sensitivity and 91% specificity.