Thymidine phosphorylase (TP) is a potent angiogenic molecule shown to induce endothelial cell migration and proliferation. We investigated the expression of TP in a series of 156 endometrial carcinomas, using immunohistochemical methods. Histopathological parameters of known prognostic significance and the molecular factors of p53, bcl-2 and angiogenesis were also assessed. Thymidine phosphorylase was expressed in cancer cells, stromal fibroblasts and myometrial cells. The pattern of TP staining was nuclear or mixed nuclear/cytoplasmic, and only exceptionally was purely cytoplasmic. An exclusively cytoplasmic staining was documented for the tumour-associated foamy macrophages. Cancer cell reactivity was rather limited; only 3.2% of endometrial carcinomas expressed TP in more than 50% of the neoplastic cell population and only 12% expressed the enzyme in more than 10% of the cancer cells. By contrast, TP reactivity was frequent in the fibroblasts of the tumour supporting stroma and the fibroblasts/myometrial cells at the invading tumour front, where approximately 1/3 of the cases expressed TP in more than 50% of the respective constituent cells. A high TP reactivity in the stromal fibroblasts was significantly associated with the presence of foamy macrophages and an intense lymphocytic response. A high TP reactivity at the invading tumour front was significantly associated with an intense lymphocytic response and the adverse prognostic parameters of high tumour grade, deep myometrial invasion, advanced stage of disease and the non-endometrioid carcinomas. There was no significant association of cancer cell TP reactivity with any of the parameters studied, including nuclear p53 accumulation, cytoplasmic/perinuclear bcl-2 expression, microvessel density (MVD) and prognosis. Similarly, no relationship was established between fibroblastic or fibroblastic/myometrial TP reactivity and MVD. It is concluded that TP is not a major angiogenic factor in endometrial carcinomas. However, a prominent TP activity at the invading tumour front, which is probably induced by cytokines of histiocytic and lymphocytic origin, may promote tumour invasion and progression.