Bone morphogenetic protein-7 (BMP-7) is a signalling molecule belonging to the transforming growth factor--superfamily. Recent studies have demonstrated the clinical impact of BMP-7 expression in various human cancers. However, there have been few reports detailing this in gastric cancer. We immunohistochemically investigated the expression of BMP-7 in 233 gastric cancer patients to disclose the clinicopathological features of BMP-7-positive gastric cancer. Immunohistochemically, in human gastric cancer, BMP-7 expression was identified in cellular membranes but also in the cytoplasm of cancer cells. Bone morphogenetic protein-7-positive expression was found in 129 of 233 patients (55%). Bone morphogenetic protein-7 expression was correlated with tumour size, nodal involvement, lymphatic invasion, venous invasion and histology (P<0.05). Bone morphogenetic protein-7 expression was significantly correlated with patient postoperative outcome, especially in the undifferentiated group. Multivariate analysis revealed BMP-7 expression as one of the independent prognostic factors next to the depth of invasion and nodal involvement (P<0.01). From the data collected, it would be appropriate to conclude on the possible regulation of gastric cancer progression by autocrine or paracrine BMP-7 loops. We can use BMP-7 expression as one of the strong predictors of risk of tumour recurrence in gastric cancer.