Because small flat colorectal neoplastic lesions (i.e., flat adenomas and flat adenocarcinomas) may be as translucent as the surrounding mucosa, they can remain undetected at conventional endoscopy. By combining high-resolution video endoscopy and chromoscopy, we detected 109 colorectal flat neoplastic lesions in 55 of 232 patients studied. Forty-three (78%) of the 55 patients with flat neoplastic lesions were over 60 years of age. No flat neoplastic lesions were seen in patients under 40 years of age. Flat neoplastic lesions were more frequent in men (35%) than in women (15%). Seventy-seven (71%) of the 109 flat neoplastic lesions measured 0.5 cm or less, 23 (21%) between 0.6 and 1.0 cm, and 9 (8%) more than 1.0 cm. Low-grade dysplasia and high-grade dysplasia were found in 94 (86%) and 13 (12%) of the flat neoplastic lesions, respectively. Adenocarcinoma was diagnosed in 3 (3%) flat lesions: 1 (1%) carcinoma originating in a flat adenoma and 2 (2%) adenocarcinomas without recognizable adenomatous elements. No adenocarcinomas were seen in lesions measuring 1.0 cm or less. Fourteen flat neoplastic lesions had a central depression at endoscopy. Flat neoplastic lesions with central depression more frequently showed high-grade dysplasia (43%) than did flat neoplastic lesions without central depression (7%). Central depression in flat neoplastic lesions should be considered a possible endoscopic marker for severe dysplasia. Our results suggest that flat neoplastic lesions occur more frequently than previously reported in Scandinavia. Flat adenomas may play an important role in the histogenesis of colorectal cancer.