Serum carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) levels were determined in 68 patients with Stage IV gastric cancers, the objective being to examine the clinicopathological relationship between the metastatic patterns of gastric cancer and the serum CEA level. Of the 68 patients, 31 were diagnosed as cases of liver metastases and 37 as cases of peritoneal dissemination. Serum CEA levels were elevated in 21 of 31 patients (67.8%) with liver metastases and in 7 of 37 patients (18.9%) with peritoneal dissemination (P < 0.01). A univariate analysis showed that liver metastasis correlated with a young age (P < 0.01), the lower portion of stomach (P < 0.05), Borrmann types 1 and 2 (P < 0.01), differentiated type (P < 0.01), and nonserosal involvement (P < 0.05) more than did peritoneal dissemination. A multivariate analysis showed that in addition to Borrmann type 1 and 2, elevated CEA levels (> 2.5 ng/ml) is an independent risk factor involved in liver metastasis. Thus careful follow-up and postoperative adjuvant therapy are required for patients with elevated CEA levels, even with "curative" resection.