The over-expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R), EGF and transforming growth factor alpha (TGFalpha) could be a mechanism for colorectal tumor cells to escape normal growth controls. Our aims were: (i) to evaluate EGF, TGFalpha, and EGF-R concentrations in neoplastic tissue and surrounding mucosa from 40 patients with colorectal adenocarcinoma, and (ii) to assess the expression of these growth factors and their receptor in relation to the tumor site. EGF, TGFalpha, and EGF-R were detected in either colorectal neoplastic tissue or surrounding mucosa. Significantly increased levels of EGF and EGF-R were present in neoplastic samples compared to surrounding mucosa. Furthermore, a significant increase in TGFalpha and in EGF levels was observed in the left-sided surrounding mucosa and left-sided neoplastic tissue, respectively. EGF-R stimulation by its ligands may play an important role in colorectal neoplastic tissue. Moreover, the higher content of growth factors in the left-side than the right-side colon suggests different growth properties in the proximal and distal colon.