Abstract Esophageal and colorectal adenocarcinomas overexpress Fas ligand (FasL), which can protect them from immune surveillance. The aim of this work was to determine whether FasL expression, and therefore FasL-dependent immune evasion, occurs early during malignant transformation in Barrett's metaplasia (BM) of the esophagus, and in the large intestine. Sections of formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue from esophageal and large bowel biopsies and resection specimens were immunostained for FasL using standard immunoperoxidase technique. The percentage of positive cells was correlated with the degree of dysplasia in BM and with the size and villous architecture of colorectal adenomas. In BM, FasL was detected in 55$ of cases negative for dysplasia, and was associated with inflammation in almost all positive cases. By contrast, all cases of BM (100%) with low- or high-grade dysplasia were FasL-positive. In the large intestine, 25% of small adenomas were negative for FasL, and FasL overexpression was significantly more frequent in larger adenomas and in adenomas with tubulovillous or villous morphology. Our results suggest that (1) FasL overexpression is acquired early during malignant transformation of BM and the large bowel and (2) FasL overexpression ocurs relatively earlier during malignant progression of BM than the large bowel, probably as a result of the preceding repeated inflammation.