E-cadherin is a cell-cell adhesion molecule involved in tumour invasion and metastasis. We evaluated E-cadherin expression immunohistochemically in 43 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens of pancreatic cancer and investigated its relationship to histopathological features. In non-cancerous pancreatic cells E-cadherin immunoreactivity was localized at the cell membrane, particularly at the intercellular junctions. Abnormal E-cadherin expression was found in 18 (42%) cases. A significantly higher proportion of poorly-differentiated tumours (71%) showed abnormal E-cadherin expression compared with moderately (50%) and well (19%) differentiated tumours (P = 0.037). There was a significant correlation between abnormal E-cadherin expression and lymph node involvement (P = 0.013), the presence of distant metastases (P = 0.034) and advanced tumour stage (P = 0.025). These findings suggest that loss of normal E-cadherin expression is involved in the progression of pancreatic cancer.