Surgical specimens from 19 patients with invasive colorectal cancers and 12 specimens of normal mucosa from the same patients were examined immunohistochemically for the production of the immunoreactive (IR-) transforming growth factor (TGF)-alpha and IR-epidermal growth factor (EGF) with an anti-TGF-alpha monoclonal antibody (MAb) OAL-MTG01 and anti-EGF MAb KEM-10. Immunoreactive TGF-alpha was detected in 16 (84.2%) of 19 colorectal cancers. In contrast, there was no IR-TGF-alpha in the gland cells of normal mucosa. Immunoreactive EGF was detected in 7 (36.8%) of 19 colorectal cancers and 1 (8.3%) of 12 cases of normal mucosa. The production of both IR-TGF-alpha and IR-EGF in colorectal cancer did not differ by histologic type and Dukes' stage. Immunoreactive TGF-alpha was detected at significantly higher incidence than IR-EGF in colorectal cancer. These results indicate that IR-TGF-alpha should prove valuable as a possible tumor marker in colorectal cancers, and it may be very useful in understanding the biology of colorectal cancer.