The cytokeratins are the intermediate filament proteins characteristic of epithelial cells. In human cells, some 20 different cytokeratin isotypes have been identified. Epithelial cells express between two and ten cytokeratin isotypes and the consequent profile which reflects both epithelial type and differentiation status may be useful in tumour diagnosis. The transitional epithelium or urothelium of the urinary tract shows alterations in the expression and configuration of cytokeratin isotypes related to stratification and differentiation. In transitional cell carcinoma, changes in cytokeratin profile may provide information of potential diagnostic and prognostic significance. The intensification of immunolabelling with some CK8 and CK18 antibodies may underly an active role in tumour invasion and foci of CK17-positive cells may represent proliferating populations. Loss of CK13 is a marker of grade and stage and de novo expression of CK14 is indicative of squamous differentiation and an unfavourable prognosis. However, perhaps the most important recent finding is the demonstration that a normal CK20 expression pattern is predictive of tumour non-recurrence and can be used to make an objective differential diagnosis between transitional cell papilloma and carcinoma. This review will consider cytokeratin expression in urothelium and discuss the application of cytokeratin typing to the diagnosis and prognosis of patients with TCC.