Cell proliferation was measured by a three-step immunoperoxidase technique on cryostat sections of 61 resected colorectal adenocarcinomas using the monoclonal antibody Ki-67 that is directed against a proliferation-associated nuclear antigen. The percentage of Ki-67-positive cells was quantified with the point-counting method. The frequency distribution of the percentage of Ki-67-positive tumor cells in 52 unirradiated carcinomas was gaussian with a mean of 38.7% (range, 7.7% to 75.3%). Analysis of the unirradiated tumors showed no relation between Ki-67 staining and various clinicopathologic features including age, sex, tumor volume, tumor differentiation, location, and tumor stage. Although some tumors demonstrated intratumor heterogeneity of immunoreactivity, there was no significant difference in proliferative activity among peripheral, intermediate, and central tumor areas. Whereas the Ki-67 index increased to 47.1% in recurrent carcinomas, it decreased significantly to 24.7% in rectal carcinomas given radiotherapy before surgery. Therefore, Ki-67 immunostaining might be used as a tool to select and monitor patients with colorectal cancers who might benefit from radiotherapy. The marked differences of Ki-67 expression among different tumors may relate to heterogeneity in growth kinetics and may therefore carry prognostic implications.