Scirrhous type gastric cancer is characterized by diffuse infiltration of poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma cells and poor prognosis. Although association of poorly differentiated histology with reduction in E-cadherin expression, as well as association of microRNA (miR)-200c with E-cadherin through regulation of ZEB1/2, has been reported, participation of miR-200c in gastric carcinogenesis is not fully understood. We used 6 cell lines originating from gastric cancers, and investigated levels of miR-200c along with its target mRNAs ZEB1/2 and E-cadherin by qRT-PCR. ZEB1 and E-cadherin protein expression was also assessed via western blotting. Furthermore, we investigated the expression levels of miR‑200c by in situ hybridization, along with the expression of ZEB1 and E-cadherin by immunohistochemistry, in 97 gastric adenocarcinoma tissues. Inverse correlation between miR‑200c and ZEB1 levels were obtained by qRT-PCR in cell lines (P<0.05). Cell lines with low miR-200c and high ZEB1 exhibited low E-cadherin expression in both qRT-PCR and western blotting, and exhibited spindle-shaped morphology, in contrast to round cell morphology in those cell lines with high miR-200c levels. Inverse correlations were also obtained between miR-200c and ZEB1 as well as between ZEB1 and E-cadherin levels in tissue samples (P<0.001). Cancer tissues with low miR-200c, high ZEB1, and low E-cadherin expression were associated with poorly differentiated histology, in contrast to tubular form in cancers with high miR-200c expression levels (P<0.001). Our data revealed that downregulation of miR-200c primarily regulated cell morphology by downregulation of E-cadherin through upregulation of ZEB1, leading to poorly differentiated histology in gastric cancer.