Endostatin, a carboxy-terminal fragment of collagen XVIII, potently inhibits angiogenesis and tumour growth, presumably through induction of apoptosis in endothelial cells and/or inhibition of their migration. Here we have tested how the timing of recombinant human endostatin (rh-E) administration affects its antitumour activity in a liver metastasis model of mouse C26 colorectal carcinoma cells. The effects of rh-E treatment on hepatic tumour load and on early tumour cell seeding were evaluated. Recombinant human endostatin was most effective in reducing intrahepatic tumour growth when administered prior to tumour cell inoculation. Analysis of early tumour cell seeding by using [125I]iododeoxyuridine-labelled C26 cells or by in vivo microscopy showed that rh-E reduced tumour cell seeding in the liver sinusoids. Recombinant human endostatin did not inhibit tumour growth when administered later than 4 days after tumour injection. Pretreatment of human umbilical vein endothelial cells with rh-E in vitro reduced C26 tumour cell adhesion under flow conditions two-fold as assessed by video microscopy and multiphoton laser scanning microscopy. Our results show that rh-E, in addition to antiangiogenic effects, reduces tumour cell adhesion in the liver sinusoids during the very early phases of metastasis formation. These data point towards a previously unknown mode of action of endostatin, that is, its ability to interfere with tumour cell seeding. Such insights may be helpful in the design of trials to improve (surgical) treatment of colorectal carcinoma and liver metastases.