Clinical and pathological findings in 87 patients with juvenile polyposis have been reviewed; 1032 polyps were available from 80 of these patients; 840 were typical spherical juvenile polyps whereas 169 differed in being multilobulated or showing a villous configuration; 79 (46.7%) of the latter contained foci of epithelial dysplasia whereas only 76 (9.0%) of the typical juvenile polyps were dysplastic. The series also included 21 adenomas and two hyperplastic (metaplastic) polyps. The demonstration of dysplasia provides a histogenetic mechanism for the evolution of colorectal cancer from hamartomatous polyps; 18 juvenile polyposis patients have developed colorectal cancer at a mean age of 34 years (range 15-59). The clinical outcome was generally poor. No clinical or pathological distinction could be made between polyposis patients with and without colorectal cancer. Thus, the development of cancer in juvenile polyposis appears to be a random event. A working definition of juvenile polyposis is provided: (1) more than five juvenile polyps of the colorectum; and/or (2) juvenile polyps throughout the gastrointestinal tract; and/or (3) any number of juvenile polyps with a family history of juvenile polyposis. It is suggested that the condition should be treated as seriously as familial adenomatous polyposis except that regular colonoscopic surveillance may obviate the need for prophylactic colectomy.