context: the appearance of adenomas and their progression to adenocarcinomas is the result of an accumulation of genetic changes in cells of the intestinal mucosa inherited or acquired during life. several proteins have been studied in relation to the development and progression of colorectal cancer, including tumor protein p53 (p53) and antigen identified by monoclonal antibody ki-67 (ki-67). objective: to evaluate the expression of p53 and ki-67 in colorectal adenomas and correlate the observed levels with clinical and pathologic findings. method: the sample consisted of 50 adenomatous polyps from patients undergoing colonoscopy. after performing polypectomy, polyps were preserved in a formalin solution with 10% (vol./vol.) phosphate buffer, submitted for routine preparation of sections and slides and stained with hematoxylin and eosin. for each adenoma we then performed immunohistochemistry to detect specific p53 and ki-67 proteins using a streptavidin-biotin-peroxidase enzyme immunoassay. results: p53 was detected in 18% of the adenomas. the average ki-67 protein index (i.ki-67) was 0.49. a statistically significant difference was observed in p53 (p = 0.0003) and ki-67 (p = 0.02) expression between adenomas with low- and high-grade dysplasia, particularly for p53. the expression of ki-67 was greater in rectal adenomas than in colic adenomas (p = 0.02). no relationship was found between the expression of the two proteins in the sample. conclusion: the p53 protein is expressed in a proportion of adenomas, while the ki-67 protein was expressed in all adenomas. the expression of p53 was higher in adenomas with high-grade dysplasia. the expression of ki-67 was higher in rectal adenomas and in adenomas with high-grade dysplasia.