The role of the adaptive immune response in controlling the growth and recurrence of human tumors has been controversial. We characterized the tumor-infiltrating immune cells in large cohorts of human colorectal cancers by gene expression profiling and in situ immunohistochemical staining. Collectively, the immunological data (the type, density, and location of immune cells within the tumor samples) were found to be a better predictor of patient survival than the histopathological methods currently used to stage colorectal cancer. The results were validated in two additional patient populations. These data support the hypothesis that the adaptive immune response influences the behavior of human tumors. In situ analysis of tumor-infiltrating immune cells may therefore be a valuable prognostic tool in the treatment of colorectal cancer and possibly other malignancies.