To determine the relevance of MGMT in Barrett's carcinogenesis, we analyzed promotor hypermethylation and expression of MGMT in Barrett's adenocarcinomas and its paired precursor lesions from 133 patients using a methylation-specific PCR, real-time RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. Hypermethylation was detected in 78.9% of esophageal adenocarcinomas, in 100% of Barrett's intraepithelial neoplasia, in 88.9% of Barrett's metaplasia, but only in 21.4% of normal esophageal mucosa samples (P<0.001) and correlated significantly with downregulation of MGMT transcripts (P=0.048) and protein expression (P=0.02). Decrease of protein expression was significantly correlated with progressed stage of disease, lymph node invasion and tumor size. We conclude, that aberrant promoter methylation of MGMT is a frequent and early event during tumorigenesis of Barrett's esophagus. High prevalence of MGMT hypermethylation may represent a candidate marker for improved diagnosis and targeted therapy in Barrett's adenocarcinoma.