A study was carried out to assess whether p53 expression is related to tumour type, grade or pathological characteristics, or to prognosis, in gastric cancer. Immunohistochemical studies were performed to detect p53 protein in sections from 55 consecutive gastrectomy or partial gastrectomy specimens. Tumours were classified for T-stage, histopathological grade and pathological characteristics. Immunohistochemical staining detected p53 protein in 11 (19%) of the 55 specimens. There was no statistically significant difference between patients with p53 positively staining tumours and patients with p53 negatively staining tumours with regard to tumour grade, stage or pathological characteristics (lymph-node infiltration, depth of invasion, necrosis, or necrosis of vessels). Survival time was statistically significantly lower in patients with positively staining tumours (mean survival times 12.0 and 23.4 months, respectively). These results suggest that expression of p53 protein is related to poor prognosis in gastric carcinoma.