A reduction in cell adhesiveness and cell invasion are essential steps in tumour progression to metastasis. In the present study two out of seven colorectal carcinoma cell lines exhibited reduced expression of the cell-cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin as assessed by immunofluorescence. The same two cell lines were invasive in the collagen gel and membrane invasion culture system invasion assays. Addition of anti-E-cadherin antibody to a non-invasive carcinoma cell line caused the cells to assume a dissociated morphology on plastic and to become invasive in collagen gels. This demonstrates a causal role for E-cadherin in the maintenance of intercellular adhesion and the suppression of tumour cell invasion and possibly metastasis in colorectal tumour cells.