BACKGROUND AND AIM Preoperative endoscopic tattooing is an effective procedure to identify small intraoperative neoplasms. However, there are no defined criteria with regard to the indications for endoscopic tattooing of these lesions at the time of diagnosis. The aim of this study was to establish endoscopic criteria that allow the selection of patients who will need a tattoo during the diagnostic colonoscopy. METHODS An ambispective study of patients undergoing laparoscopy due to a colorectal neoplasia who underwent endoscopic tattooing during the period from 2007-2013 and 2016-2017. According to the endoscopic description of the neoplasms, the classification was polypoid lesions, neoplasms occupying < 50% or ≥ 50% of the intestinal lumen and stenosing neoplasias. RESULTS Tattooing of the lesion was performed in 120 patients and the same lesions were identified during surgery in 114 (95%) cases. Most of the neoplasias described as polypoids and neoplasias that occupied < 50% of the intestinal lumen were not visualized during surgery and therefore required a tattoo (33 of 42 and 18 of 26 respectively, p = 0.0001, X2). On the other hand, stenosing lesions or neoplasias occupying ≥ 50% of the intestinal lumen were mostly identified during surgery (15 of 15 and 36 of 37 respectively, p = 0.0001, X2) without the need for a tattoo. Overall, the identification of neoplasms according to established criteria was 98%. CONCLUSION These results suggest that it is possible to establish endoscopic criteria that allow a successful selective tattooing during diagnostic endoscopy.