Stromelysin-3 has been recently described in association with the stroma of different types of cancer including colorectal carcinomas. This article reports the detection of transcripts for stromelysin-3 (matrix metalloproteinase-11 [MMP-11]) in extracts of tissue from colorectal carcinomas using the technique of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In 12 cases of primary colon carcinoma, stromelysin-3 messenger RNA (mRNA) was detected after 25 cycles, whereas this procedure did not reveal stromelysin-3 mRNA expression in one rectal carcinoma micrometastasis to the liver or in normal colon tissue (controls) after 30 cycles of PCR. However, stromelysin-3 mRNA was detected in normal colon specimens after 45 cycles. The high sensitivity of this technique allows application for the investigation of the expression of stromelysin-3 in small amounts of tissue.