PURPOSE: The matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have been implicated in proteolysis of basement membrane for initiation of metastatic cascade. Tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) are specific inhibitors of MMPs. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the expression of MMP-2 and TIMP-2 in human colorectal carcinomas. METHODS: The paraffin blocks of 140 colorectal carcinomas were recalled and immunostained with monoclonal antibodies specific for MMP-2 and TIMP-2. These antibodies were effective on formalin fixed, paraffin embedded sections. The rate of stain was estimated, and the relationships between the expression and the stage, the differentiation, lymph node metastasis, distant metastasis and the survival rate were assessed. RESULTS: MMP-2 was present in 31.4% of colorectal cancers. TIMP-2 was identified in 63.6% of tumors. The expression of MMP-2 was significantly associated with the presence of lymph-node metastasis, the stage, and the presence of distant metastasis. However the expression of TIMP-2 was not correlated with any risk factors. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that MMP-2 could predict the ability of cancer invasion and be used as a prognostic factor for the colorectal adenocarcinoma.