To evaluate the clinical significance of serum levels of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) in colorectal cancer patients, we measured the venous and portal concentrations of HGF in 60 patients. The tissue concentrations in the tumour and adjacent normal mucosa were also determined. The serum HGF concentration for the peripheral venous blood of the patients was significantly higher than that in normal controls. The content of HGF in cancer tissue was also significantly higher than that in normal mucosa, and it was correlated with the serum HGF concentration for the peripheral venous blood. The serum concentration of HGF reflected pathological features, including tumour size and lymph node or liver metastasis, and it showed an association with various preoperative nutritional parameters and the preoperative haemoglobin level. The serum HGF concentration was also correlated with the serum concentrations of immunosuppressive acidic protein and interleukin-6, indices of the host's immunological condition. Serum HGF seems to be a useful index of the disease status of patients with colorectal carcinoma.