Barrett's esophagus (BE) is a metaplastic disorder in which specialized columnar epithelium replaces healthy squamous epithelium (intestinal metaplasia). Even though its pathophysiology and the steps of its neoplastic progression are not completely understood, BE can be considered as a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Given that esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is continually increasing in the Western world, still has a poor prognosis and suffers from late diagnosis, and because BE is a precancerous lesion, there is a strong need for good molecular markers of malignant progression in Barrett's metaplasia (BM). The aim of this review is to examine the published data regarding the role that assessment of p53 may play in the management of BE, trying to understand if it may be a useful marker to early diagnose BE malignant transformation. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.