A consecutive series of 87 colorectal tumours were studied for loss of a polymorphic probe on chromosome 17q and of the 64 informative cases, 13 (20 per cent) showed loss of heterozygosity (LOH). Examples of LOH were found in carcinomas of all stages and in a large non-invasive adenoma. There was no correlation between 17q LOH and patient age, sex, standard clinicopathological variables (differentiation and nature of tumour margin), DNA ploidy, or tumour site, nor was 17q LOH associated with 17p LOH defined at four loci adjacent to p53. However, comparison of Dukes' B and C carcinomas revealed that tumours which had metastasized to regional lymph nodes at the time of primary surgery were significantly more likely to have lost this 17q allele. Clinical follow-up of this cohort of patients showed no significant difference in survival between patients whose tumours had lost or retained 17q. Thus, we conclude that 17q allele loss is associated with lymph node metastasis in locally aggressive colorectal tumours but probably not with blood-borne metastasis.