The expression of HLA class I antigens was tested on biopsy specimens originating from 90 patients suffering from adenocarcinoma of the colon. Three different samples were examined from each specimen: one from the tumor and the other two from the neighboring surrounding surgical margins. Twenty-seven out of 27 well-differentiated carcinomas were found highly positive for the presence of HLA class I antigens. Most of the moderately well differentiated tumors (37 out of 46) were weakly positive. None of the poorly differentiated tumors (n = 11) nor the mucin-producing tumors (n = 6) expressed HLA class I antigens. In 180 histologically normal colonic epithelia from patients suffering from adenocarcinoma of the colon (surgical edges free from tumorous tissue of the same specimens) no positive expressions were found. These results tend to suggest that class I HLA-ABC deficient, poorly differentiated tumors may possibly evade lethal immune aggression by HLA-restricted cytotoxic T cells and thus progress to overt malignancy. This negative expression may provide an explanation for the poorer prognosis observed among patients afflicted by a poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma or mucin-producing adenocarcinoma of the colon. Furthermore, these results tend to suggest that enhanced expression of HLA class I antigens on colonic epithelium could serve as a clinical laboratory indication for further examination looking for the possible emergence of neoplasm. If further verified, this may prove to serve as a predictive diagnostic tool for screening populations at risk.