Rectal cancer is a heterogeneous disease that develops through multiple pathways characterized by genetic and epigenetic alterations. India has a comparatively higher proportion of rectal cancers and early-onset cases. We analyzed genetic (KRAS, TP53 and BRAF mutations, and MSI), epigenetic alterations (CpG island methylation detection of 10 tumor-related genes/loci), the associated clinicopathological features and survival trend in 80 primary rectal cancer patients from India. MSI was detected using BAT 25 and BAT 26 mononucleotide markers and mutation of KRAS, TP53, and BRAF V600E was detected by direct sequencing. Methyl specific polymerase chain reaction was used to determine promoter methylation status of the classic CIMP panel markers (P16, hMLH1, MINT1, MINT2, and MINT31) as well as other tumor specific genes (DAPK, RASSF1, BRCA1, and GSTP1). MSI and BRAF mutations were uncommon but high frequencies of overall KRAS mutations (67.5%); low KRAS codon 12 and a novel KRAS G15S mutation with concomitant RASSF1 methylation in early onset cases were remarkable. Hierarchical clustering as well as principal component analysis identified three distinct subgroups of patients having discrete age at onset, clinicopathological, molecular and survival characteristics: (i) a KRAS associated CIMP-high subgroup; (ii) a significantly younger MSS, CIMP low, TP53 mutant group having differential KRAS mutation patterns, and (iii) a CIMP-negative, TP53 mutated group. The early onset subgroup exhibited the most unfavorable disease characteristics with advanced stage, poorly differentiated tumors and had the poorest survival compared to the other subgroups. Genetic and epigenetic profiling of rectal cancer patients identified distinct subtypes in Indian population. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.