Sequential treatment of bisulfate-converted DNA was used to study methylation of promoter areas of SEPT9, HLTF, ALX4 and CDH1 genes. Methylation profiles were evaluated by comparing bioptical findings on colorectal cancer (n=55) and morphologically intact areas of the large bowel (n=71). Significant differences between groups were established for SEPT9, HLTF and ALX4 genes (p < or = 10(-9)) in evaluating medium-rate methylation of CpG. Diagnostic sensitivity (Se) peaked for SEPT9 (78 +/- 7%); specificity--(86 +/- 4%) (Sp). On site CpG (position "+14"), similar findings were reported: Se=81 +/- 6%, Sp=77 +/- 5%. Therefore, CpG(14)SEPT9 may be used as a separate marker. As a result of the use of HLTF as marker on all 23 sites, Se was 67 +/- 6% and Sp--87 +/- 3%; ALX4 diagnostic sensitivity--59 +/- 6%. Specificity level was similar to those of the other genes (88 +/- 3%). Despite the role of CDH1 gene in colorectal cancer, the group-to-group differences in methylation rates were minimal. Such values of Se and Sp as 54 +/- 6% and 67 +/- 5%, respectively, could not support methylation of the CDH1 promoter area for diagnostic purposes. Therefore, combined evaluation of SEPT9, HLTF and ALX4 genes offered more advantage as far as diagnosis is concerned. Hypermethylation in two of the three genes was assumed as a criterion for diagnosis. Under such conditions, diagnostic sensitivity was 81 +/- 7% (Sp=93 +/- 3%). With such high values, the criterion has a potential of being instrumental in working out diagnostic tests for colorectal cancer.