Abstract Background The availability of a reliable tumor target for advanced colorectal cancer (CRC) therapeutic approaches is critical since current treatments are limited. Epidermal growth factor-like domain 6 (EGFL6) has been reported to be associated with cancer development. Here, we focused on the role of EGFL6 in CRC progression and its clinical relevance. In addition, an anti-EGFL6 antibody was generated by phage display technology to investigate its potential therapeutic efficacy in CRC. Results EGFL6 expression significantly increased in the colon tissues from CRC patients and mice showing spontaneous tumorigenesis, but not in normal tissue. Under hypoxic condition, EGFL6 expression was enhanced at both protein and transcript levels. Moreover, EGFL6 could promote cancer cell migration invasion, and proliferation of CRC cells via up-regulation of the ERK/ AKT pathway. EGFL6 also regulated cell migration, invasion, proliferation, and self-renewal through EGFR/αvβ3 integrin receptors. Treatment with the anti-EGFL6 antibody EGFL6-E5-IgG showed tumor-inhibition and anti-metastasis abilities in the xenograft and syngeneic mouse models, respectively. Moreover, EGFL6-E5-IgG treatment had no adverse effect on angiogenesis and wound healing Conclusions We demonstrated that EGFL6 plays a role in CRC tumorigenesis and tumor progression, indicating that EGFL6 is a potential therapeutic target worth further investigation.