The recently discovered pS2 protein is expressed under estrogen control in a subset of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers and in an estrogen-independent manner in normal stomach mucosa. The pS2 gene belongs to a family of genes encoding peptides that contain a conserved 5-cysteine domain, the P domains. Although the function of the pS2 protein is unknown, it has been suggested that it may have cell growth stimulatory activity. We report here that expression of the pS2 gene in the digestive tract, which is normally restricted to the stomach, is strongly induced by mucosal ulcerations elsewhere in the tract, most notably in Crohn's disease. pS2 gene expression is restricted to the mucosal layers adjacent to the ulcerations, in a region where a novel epidermal growth factor-secreting cell lineage was shown to be induced by mucosal ulceration. The human hSP gene, which contains a tandem duplication of the pS2 gene P domain and is coexpressed with the pS2 gene in normal stomach mucosa but not in breast cancers, is also expressed in Crohn's disease. We suggest that pS2 gene expression may provide a useful marker for mucosal ulcerations of the digestive tract.