The p53 tumor suppressor gene and the Bcl-2 proto-oncogene regulate cell cycle progression and apoptosis. We evaluated the expression of these molecular markers with standard pathologic prognostic variables in patients who received multimodality therapy for resectable adenocarcinoma of the pancreas to study the effect of p53 and Bcl-2 on survival duration. Immunohistochemical staining of archival material was performed to determine levels of expression of p53 and Bcl-2 proteins in 70 patients with adenocarcinoma of pancreatic origin. All patients underwent a potentially curative pancreaticoduodenectomy and standardized pathologic analysis of resected specimens. Potential pathologic and molecular prognostic variables were assessed for their effect on survival duration. Nuclear staining for p53 was observed in 33 (47%) of 70 specimens. Immunostaining for Bcl-2 was observed in 23 specimens (33%). A trend toward improved survival duration was seen in patients whose tumors stained positive for either p53 or Bcl-2. Negative staining for both markers predicted short survival (P = 0.01). By univariate and multivariate analyses, no single pathologic factor was associated with survival duration. Immunohistochemical staging using both p53 and Bcl-2 significantly predicted survival duration by univariate and multivariate analysis; patients whose tumors stained positively for p53 and/or overexpressed Bcl-2 had a significantly longer survival than those whose tumors stained negative for both proteins.