CD44 is a cell surface receptor of hyaluronate that is implicated in the regulation of tumor growth and metastatic potential. Transformation of colon mucosa to carcinoma is associated with overexpression of several CD44 alternative splice variants. The functional roles of CD44 isoforms in colon carcinoma tumor progression remain unclear. CD44H expression is downregulated in colon carcinomas compared to paired normal mucosa. In the present study we demonstrate that reintroduction of CD44H back into colon carcinoma cells by stable transfection reduces their in vitro growth rate and tumorigenicity. Examination of several colon carcinoma cell lines and use of mutant CD44H reveal that this in vitro and in vivo growth reduction requires the ability of CD44H to bind hyaluronate. These observations indicate that the CD44H downregulation associated with transformation of mucosa to colon carcinoma may provide the carcinoma cells with a growth advantage. Furthermore, the reduction in tumor growth rate mediated by reintroduction of CD44H into colon carcinoma cells is dependent on its ability to bind hyaluronate.