Carbonic anhydrase (CA) IX and XII are transmembrane isoenzymes which are expressed in several epithelia and overexpressed in some carcinomas. They have recently been linked to von Hippel-Lindau gene-mediated carcinogenesis in that both isoenzymes are downregulated by the product of the wild-type von Hippel-Lindau tumour suppressor gene. This paper describes the localisation of CA IX and XII in the normal human pancreas and pancreatic tumours. Both isoenzymes showed positive reaction in the basolateral plasma membrane of the normal acinar and ductal epithelia. The hyperplastic ductal epithelium in tumour specimens generally showed an increased staining for CA IX. Of 29 malignant tumours of exocrine pancreas, 10 showed moderate or strong immunoreaction for CA IX. The signal for CA XII remained weak in most malignant lesions. The present results show that both CA IX and XII are unevenly expressed in the ductal and acinar compartments of the human pancreas. The expression of these isoenzymes in a relatively low number of malignant tumour specimens suggests that they have a limited value in diagnostic evaluation of pancreatic carcinoma. However, the increased expression of CA IX in hyperplastic ductal epithelium may contribute to the pancreatic tumourigenesis.