If you can prepare yourselves for a period of time (a week is usually sufficient for most kids his age) where you will expect not to sleep as well or as long as you'd like, then you will have a very good chance of turning this habit around.
Go through all the regular nighttime rituals that help him prepare peacefully for sleep; if he doesn't have a transitional object (blanket, toy, etc.) that he associates with sleeping, you may wish to cultivate a "sleep buddy" for him. Prepare him for his new sleeptime routine by talking to him and showing him what's going to happen. Do this during the daytime and pretend it's sleeptime. Putting him through these brief dress rehearsals and then pretending like he has slept through the night in his own crib and you're coming to get him in the morning (excited and full of praise, of course) will dramatically prepare him for what's coming.
Put him down in his crib, calmly saying you'll sit by his crib for a few minutes while he gets sleepy and ready to have a great night's sleep. Don't let him actually go to sleep while you're there because that reinforces then notion that you need to be there in order for him to get to sleep. When he cries to get out, wait 5 minutes, go in and pat his back, sit down a little farther away from him for a little shorter period of time, and leave before he falls asleep. Do not pick him up or let him fall asleep in your arms while rocking him, etc.. Continue this for as long as it takes him to drop off to sleep. Resist bringing him into your bed and take turns going into his room. If you need more techniques, consult Dr. Richard Ferber's books. Good luck.