Beclin 1 is a key modulator bridging autophagy, apoptosis and differentiation. This study investigated the expression of beclin 1 in human colon cancers and its association with clinicopathological characteristics. A total of 115 cases of cancer tissues with intact follow-up data were obtained from colon cancer patients with stage IIIB. The expression of beclin 1 in cancer nest and adjacent normal tissue was examined with immunohistochemistry. The results showed the immunostaining of beclin 1 was distributed in plasma-membrane, cytoplasm and nucleus in tumor cells, which occurred in 98 cases (85.2%) of the 115 patients. No or modest beclin 1 expression was observed in adjacent noncancerous tissues. The higher level of beclin 1 expression strongly associated with longer survival. Both univariate analysis and multivariate analysis showed that the beclin 1 expression and invasive depth of primary mass (T stage) were independent prognostic factors. Additionally, there was no significant correlation of beclin 1 expression with clinicopathological characteristics, such as sex, age, site of primary mass, pathological classification, grade and invasive depth with the nonparametric correlation Kendall's tau-b test.