YKL-40 is a growth factor for connective tissue cells and a migration factor for endothelial cells. Elevated serum level of YKL-40 has been associated with poor prognosis in many cancers. However, the status of YKL-40 expression and its clinical/prognostic significance in gastric cancer are unclear. In this study, the expression of YKL-40 was studied by immunohistochemistry in gastric cancer tissue microarray containing 172 primary gastric cancer cases and 70 adjacent nonneoplastic mucosa specimens. The correlations between YKL-40 expression and clinicopathologic features, as well as activation of PI3K/Akt pathways were addressed. Expression of YKL-40 was significantly higher in gastric cancer tissues than that in adjacent nonneoplastic tissues. Overexpression YKL-40 was found in 28.4% of gastric cancers and was significantly associated with tumor invasion (P = .007) and lymph node metastasis (P = .009). For survival study, overexpression of YKL-40 was significantly associated with worse outcome (P = .001). When known clinical variables were added to a multivariate analysis, TNM stage, tumor size, and overexpression of YKL-40 emerged as independent prognostic factors. Further study indicated that the oncogenic function of YKL-40 might be through the activation of Akt pathway. These results suggest that overexpression of YKL-40 is correlated with the aggressive behavior of tumor cells, which could be used as an independent molecular marker for the predicting poor prognosis of patients with gastric cancer.