The predictive value of expression of p16INK4A, retinoblastoma (Rb) and p53 proteins for prognosis was evaluated in 76 patients with non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) that were potentially curatively resected between 1990 and 1995, using the results of immunostaining analyses of these proteins as reported in our previous study (Kinoshita et al, 1996). Of these NSCLCs, 22 (29%) lacked p16 protein expression and eight (11%) Rb protein, while 30 (39%) showed positive (altered) p53 protein expression. Survival of patients with p16-negative tumours was not significantly different from that of patients with p16-positive tumours (5-year survival rates 67% and 72% respectively, P = 0.8), nor was survival of patients with Rb-negative tumours significantly different from that of patients with Rb-positive tumours (5-year survival rates 42% and 69% respectively, P = 0.9). Moreover, survival of patients with p16/Rb-negative (either p16- or Rb-negative) tumours was not significantly different from that of patients with p16/Rb-positive (both p16- and Rb-positive) tumours (5-year survival rates 67% and 68% respectively, P = 0.7). In contrast, survival of patients with p53-positive (altered) tumours tended to be shorter than that of patients with p53-negative (unaltered) tumours (5-year survival rates 56% and 78% respectively, P = 0.06). In univariate analysis of potential prognostic factors, p16, Rb and p16/Rb proteins were not significant prognostic factors in the present cohort of potentially curatively resected NSCLCs. Altered p53 protein status tended to be a negative prognostic factor (P = 0.06 by the univariate analysis). These results indicate that loss of p16 protein alone, or in combination with loss of Rb protein, does not predict the clinical outcome of patients with resected NSCLCs.