We investigated the expression of 10 adhesion molecules (alpha-catenin, beta-catenin, gamma-catenin, CD44, CD44v6, ICAM-1, CD56, CEA, E-cadherin, and CD99) in 46 gallbladder carcinomas, 14 adenomas, 15 low-grade dysplasias, nine intestinal metaplasias, and 20 samples of normal gallbladder epithelium by immunohistochemistry. The expression of adhesion molecules was altered in gallbladder carcinomas and adenomas. In gallbladder carcinomas, increased expression of ICAM-1, CEA, and CD44v6 was observed, together with decreased expression of alpha/beta/gamma-catenin and CD99. In adenomas, aberrant expression of CD44v6 and CD56, as well as reduced expression of alpha/beta/gamma- and E-cadherins, was noted. Expression of alpha/beta/gamma-catenin was reduced in low-grade dysplasia, whereas there was no change in the expression of these adhesion molecules in metaplasia. Expression of ICAM-1, CD99, E-cadherin, and CD56 was correlated with clinical stage. In addition a correlation was noted between expression of ICAM-1 and E-cadherin and lymph node metastasis (p<0.05). These results suggest that altered expression of these adhesion molecules is involved in the progression and metastasis of gallbladder carcinomas.