Flow cytometric DNA ploidy analysis for human bladder cancers may provide significant diagnostic and prognostic potential. We have previously reported that combined use of histologic and flow cytometric parameters may offer additional information regarding the clinical outcome for bladder cancer patients. However, the evaluation included both superficial and muscle-invasive tumors. In the present manuscript, we present our study on whether flow cytometric determination yields significant prognosticators beyond the classical histologic evaluation only in the patient with superficial bladder cancer. A total of 217 patients with untreated bladder cancer were evaluated, using fresh bladder tumor specimens. Tumor grading (grade 1, 2, and 3) and stage (pTa + pT1a and pT1b) served as the histologic prognostic parameters. Multiple flow cytometric parameters assessed included DNA index, percentage S-phase cells, percentage G2/M-phase cells, and hypertetraploid cell presence. Multivariate survival analysis was performed using the SAS proportional hazard regression procedure to study statistical individual prognostic values of both the histologic and the flow cytometric parameters. Clinical follow-up of more than 60 months was required, with the mean follow-up being 116.3 +/- 18.6 months. Hypertetraploid cell presence was the single most important prognostic factor (p < 0.01; risk ratio: 14.3), with the second being tumor grade (p < 0.05; risk ratio: 4.6). No other parameters, including tumor stage, the DNA index, and cell phase fractions, contributed to the model. These results indicate that hypertetraploid cell presence found by flow cytometric determination may provide additional information regarding the clinical outcome for superficial bladder cancer patients, and can be used as an indicator for decision making in treatment of superficial bladder cancer patients.