Pancreatic cancer is one of the most devastating human malignancies. Despite considerable research efforts, it remains resistant to almost all available treatment regimens. The human trophoblast cell-surface antigen, TROP2, was found to be strongly expressed in a variety of human epithelial cancers, correlating with aggressiveness and poor prognosis. TROP2 antigen expression was investigated retrospectively by immunohistochemistry in paraffin-embedded primary tumour tissue samples from a series (n=197) of consecutive patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Survival was calculated using Kaplan–Meier curves. Parameters found to be of prognostic significance in univariate analysis were verified in a multivariate Cox regression model. TROP2 overexpression was observed in 109 (55%) of 197 pancreatic cancer patients and was significantly associated with decreased overall survival (P<0.01). By univariate analysis, TROP2 overexpression was found to correlate with the presence of lymph node metastasis (P=0.04) and tumour grade (P=0.01). Furthermore, in the subgroup of patients treated surgically with curative intent, TROP2 overexpression significantly correlated with poor progression-free survival (P<0.01). Multivariate analyses revealed TROP2 to be an independent prognosticator. These findings suggest for the first time that TROP2 could be a novel prognostic biomarker for pancreatic cancer. Targeting TROP2 might be a useful treatment approach for patients with pancreatic cancer overexpressing this cell-surface marker.