Galectin-3 is a member of the beta-galactoside-binding protein family that plays an important role in cell-cell adhesion and in cell-matrix interaction. We have examined the expression of galectin-3 in normal, adenomatous, and malignant thyroid tissues and also in metastatic lesions. Galectin-3 was rarely expressed in normal thyroid tissue but was abundant in the cytoplasm of the neoplastic lesions. Among neoplastic lesions, galectin-3 was expressed to a greater extent in follicular carcinomas than in follicular adenomas and was present in greater amounts in papillary carcinomas than in follicular adenomas or carcinomas. Primary lesions of papillary carcinoma with metastasis contained significantly higher concentrations of galectin-3 than tumors of this type without metastases. However, the expression of galectin-3 was significantly decreased in metastatic lesions in the lymph nodes compared with their primary lesions. From these results, we assumed that galectin-3 works in different ways at different stages of thyroid neoplasm proliferation. Among primary tumors, galectin-3 expression is significantly different in 3 histological types. However, the continuity of progression among these tumors is not yet proven. In later stages, decreased expression of galectin-3 may aid the release of cancer cells from the primary lesions for invasion and metastasis.