Background: The expression of NDRG1 gene is induced by nickel, a transition metal sharing similar physical properties to cobalt. Nickel may create hypoxia-like conditions in cells and induce hypoxia-responsive genes, as does cobalt. Therefore NDRG1 is likely to be another gene induced by hypoxia. HIF-1 is a transcription factor which has a major role in the regulation of hypoxia-responsive genes, and thus it could be involved in the transcriptional regulation of NDRG1 gene. Hypoxia is such a common feature of solid tumours that it is of interest to investigate the expression of Ndrg1 protein in human cancers.