This study aimed to determine the expression pattern of dickkopf-1 (Dkk1), a potent inhibitor of Wnt signaling, in colon cancer and to assess the function and mechanism of Dkk1 in tumor progression in vitro and in vivo. We detected the protein expression of Dkk1 and some epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-associated markers (E-cadherin, vimentin and β-catenin) in 217 tissue samples of human colon cancer, upregulated Dkk1 expression in HCT116 colon cancer cells, and established a nude mouse xenograft model. Dkk1 protein overexpression was inversely related to tumor grade and the presence of metastasis and recurrence of colon cancer. Notably, the expression of Dkk1 was concomitant with reduced immunohistochemical features of EMT (e.g. increased expression of epithelial marker E-cadherin, decreased expression of mesenchymal marker vimentin, and cytoplasmic distribution of β-catenin). Furthermore, Dkk1 overexpression resulted in restoration of the epithelial phenotype, decreased expression of EMT transcription factors Snail and Twist, and decreased expression of markers suggestive of intestinal stem cells (e.g. cluster of differentiation 133 [CD133] and leucine-rich-repeat-containing G-protein-coupled receptor 5 [Lgr5]). Functional analysis showed overexpression of Dkk1 reduced proliferation, migration, and invasion of colon cancer cells. Moreover, upregulation of Dkk1 led to decreased tumor-initiating ability and suppressed colon tumor growth in nude mice. Our findings indicate that Dkk1 can suppress the progression of colon cancer, possibly through EMT inhibition, and could therefore serve as a target for tumor therapy. (Cancer Sci 2012; 103: 828–835)