Aberrant crypt foci (ACF) are present in carcinogen treated rodent colons and in the colons of humans with a high risk for developing the disease. It is proposed that ACF are preneoplastic lesions. Quantification of the number and growth features of ACF has been employed to study modulators of colon carcinogenesis. In this review, examples are presented to support the concept that ACF are preneoplastic lesions and that sequential quantification of their number and growth features (crypt multiplicity) in animal colons may provide further insight into the pathogenesis of colon cancer. It is proposed that cellular and molecular heterogeneity among ACF with different growth and morphologic features will be invaluable in the identification of events critically associated with cancer development.