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Up-regulation of autocrine motility factor receptor (AMF-R) expression has been shown to be associated with invasion and metastasis of experimental tumour systems and human neoplasms. Monoclonal antibodies against AMF-R (gp78) were used to stain 221 primary gastric cancer specimens, and level of expression was examined in relation to pathological stage and prognostic values. In 125 out of 221 (56.6%) patients, gp78 was detected. Expression of gp78 was associated with macroscopic type, lymphatic and venous invasions, and lymph node and peritoneal metastasis. The level of gp78 expression in the cancer specimens was associated with histopathological stage and grade of tumour penetration. Positive gp78 expression was significantly associated with poor prognosis (P < 0.001). This significant relationship remained among patients in stage II and III. The results suggest that gp78 expression could be used as a prognostic marker in gastric cancer patients.