Both the coagulation and fibrinolytic cascades generate proteolytic enzymes which appear to be essential for tumor invasion. In the present investigation adenocarcinomas and normal colon from 14 patients with colorectal cancer were studied by immunohistochemistry. The most striking observation was an enrichment of plasminogen activator inhibitor in the tumor tissue, whereas no such immunoreactivity was detected in the biopsies of normal colon. The tumor-host interface was characterized by a massive accumulation of inflammatory cells, macrophages and T lymphocytes. In this area fibrin(ogen) immunoreactivity as a sign of local activation of the coagulation cascade was also seen. The transition zone between the tumor and normal tissue was furthermore characterized by a marked enrichment of urokinase plasminogen activator immunoreactivity. The study strongly indicates that proteases and inhibitors of the fibrinolytic system may be of great importance in tumor invasion.