The role of deleted in colorectal carcinoma (DCC) as a tumour suppressor has been a matter of debate for the past 15 years. DCC gene expression is lost or markedly reduced in the majority of advanced colorectal cancers and, by functioning as a dependence receptor, DCC has been shown to induce apoptosis unless engaged by its ligand, netrin-1 (ref. 2). However, so far no animal model has supported the view that the DCC loss-of-function is causally implicated as predisposing to aggressive cancer development. To investigate the role of DCC-induced apoptosis in the control of tumour progression, here we created a mouse model in which the pro-apoptotic activity of DCC is genetically silenced. Although the loss of DCC-induced apoptosis in this mouse model is not associated with a major disorganization of the intestines, it leads to spontaneous intestinal neoplasia at a relatively low frequency. Loss of DCC-induced apoptosis is also associated with an increase in the number and aggressiveness of intestinal tumours in a predisposing APC mutant context, resulting in the development of highly invasive adenocarcinomas. These results demonstrate that DCC functions as a tumour suppressor via its ability to trigger tumour cell apoptosis.