MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are essential for regulating cell differentiation and maintaining the pluripotent state of stem cells. Although dysregulation of specific miRNAs has been associated with certain types of cancer, to date no evidence has linked miRNA expression in embryonic and tumor tissues. We assessed the expression of mature miRNAs in human embryonic colon tissue, and in colorectal cancer and paired normal colon tissue. Overlapping miRNA expression was detected between embryonic colonic mucosa and colorectal cancer. We have found that the miR-17-92 cluster and its target, E2F1, exhibit a similar pattern of expression in human colon development and colonic carcinogenesis, regulating cell proliferation in both cases. In situ hybridization confirmed the high level of expression of miR-17-5p in the crypt progenitor compartment. We conclude that miRNA pathways play a major role in both embryonic development and neoplastic transformation of the colonic epithelium.