Several studies have indicated that frequent allelic losses in some specific chromosomal regions occur during colorectal cancer (CRC) progression. To clarify the correlation between such allelic losses and metastatic potential, the allelotype of lymph node-positive early CRCs, which are small but extremely malignant cancers consisting of metastatically competent cells, were investigated. Nineteen paraffin-embedded specimens of early CRC (pT1 tumors according to TNM classification) with positive lymph nodes were collected. The tumor tissues were examined for loss of heterozygosity (LOH), using microsatellite markers on chromosomes 1p34-36, 8p21-22, 14q32, 18q21 and 22q12-13. The relationship between p53 protein expression and the metastatic status was also investigated by immunohistochemical staining. A group of 20 early CRCs with negative lymph nodes having a similar distribution of macroscopic appearance were used as controls. Among the 19 node-positive tumors, LOH at 8p21-22 and 18q21 was detected in 11 cases (57.9%) and 17 cases (89.4%), respectively. Allelic losses within these 2 regions in node-positive tumors were significantly more frequent than that in node-negative ones (p < 0.01). No significant correlation was found between LOH at 1p34-36, 14q32 or 22q12-13 and lymph node metastasis. p53 protein expression was not significantly associated with lymph node metastasis. Our results suggest that putative tumor suppressor genes, which may be involved in the metastatic process of CRC, are located on chromosomes 8p21-22 and 18q21. Allelic losses in these regions are possible risk factors for lymph node metastasis of early CRC.