E2F-4 is a transcription factor involved in the transition of the cell from the resting state (G0/G1) to the proliferative stage (S). It has been associated with the p107 and p130 members of the Rb-family and it is responsible for many important growth suppressive functions. E2F-1, one member of the E2F family, has a similar structure to E2F-4; however, both have different mechanisms of action in regulating cell-cycle progression. Although E2F-4 acts mainly as a repressor in the early part of the cell cycle, E2F-1 has the ability to function as both an oncogene and a tumor suppressor gene. In an attempt to identify the role of E2F-4 as a potential mediator of cell proliferation, differentiation, tumorigenesis, and apoptosis in colorectal mucosa comparing with that of E2F-1, the authors examine 20 patients with human colon cancer and their corresponding histologically healthy mucosa by using immunohistochemical methods, computerized quantitative image analysis, and immunoblot analysis. Immunohistochemical studies were performed with formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections stained with a monoclonal antibody against the E2F-4 protein. Apoptosis levels were determined by in situ assay. Positivity was scored by a Computerized Image Analyzer to detect the relative amount of the protein. Immunoblot analysis was performed on protein extracts from snap-frozen tissues of the same specimens. The results show that the expression of E2F-4 was greater in the tumor cells than in their corresponding benign epithelium as determined by immunohistochemical staining and image analysis. This was confirmed by semiquantitative IB analysis of the E2F-4 protein. The labeling index (LI) of E2F-4 in the tumors was inversely proportional to the LI of apoptotic cells. Within these cases, 12 cases showed a very high E2F-4 LI corresponding to low apoptosis LI. Three cases with relatively lower levels of E2F-4 LI were characterized with high apoptotic rates. These data suggest that E2F-4 gene overexpression plays a role in the development of colorectal tumors and appears to play a role in suppressing apoptosis.