ERC/mesothelin is expressed in mesothelioma and other malignancies. The ERC/mesothelin gene (MSLN) encodes a 71-kDa precursor protein, which is cleaved to yield 31-kDa N-terminal (N-ERC/mesothelin) and 40-kDa C-terminal (C-ERC/mesothelin) proteins. N-ERC/mesothelin is a soluble protein and has been reported to be a diagnostic serum marker of mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Gastric cancer tissue also expresses C-ERC/mesothelin, but the significance of serum N-ERC levels for diagnosing gastric cancer has not yet been studied. We examined the latter issue in the present study as well as C-ERC/mesothelin expression in human gastric cancer tissues and cell lines. We immunohistochemically examined C-ERC/mesothelin expression in tissue samples from 50 cases of gastric cancer, and we also assessed the C-ERC/mesothelin expression in 6 gastric cancer cell lines (MKN-1, MKN-7, MKN-74, NUGC-3, NUGC-4 and TMK-1) using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting. We also examined the N-ERC/mesothelin concentrations in the supernatants of cultured cells and in the sera of gastric cancer patients using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). N-ERC/mesothelin was detected in the supernatants of 3 gastric cancer cell lines (MKN-1, NUGC-4 and TMK-1) by ELISA, but its concentration in the sera of gastric cancer patients was almost same as that observed in the sera of the normal controls. In the gastric cancer tissues, C-ERC/mesothelin expression was associated with lymphatic invasion. N-ERC/mesothelin was secreted into the supernatants of gastric cancer cell lines, but does not appear to be a useful serum marker of gastric cancer.