160 clinically non-secreting pituitary adenomas were examined in regard to their expression of the markers PCNA, bcl2, Ki 67 in the mib-1 modification and p53 which are still under investigation for their relevance to cell proliferation. The series contained 60 null cell adenomas, 60 oncocytomas and 40 gonadotroph adenomas. The groups that showed a definitely negative and definitely positive staining were evaluated in regard to their further characteristics such as size, invasiveness and recurrence. PCNA showed a highly represented immunostaining index throughout the groups, but not correlation between the PCNA index and an increased recurrence rate could be found. The staining for bcl2 was only rarely positive and only in a small number of cells. No correlation with the clinical data could be seen. We found a significant higher rate of staining in the invasive adenomas in the group of null cell adenomas and oncocytomas for Ki 67, especially in those adenomas expressing p53. p53 positivity was restricted to the invasive adenomas but was found only in 20% of all invasive adenomas. These data confirm in a sufficiently large series of clinically endocrine inactive pituitary adenomas, that p53 and Ki67 immunohistology is useful in evaluating the aggressive behavior of clinically silent pituitary adenomas. Nevertheless, negative results do not exclude clinically relevant invasive behavior.