The relationship between the degree of the expression of Cu/Zn SOD, GST-pi and bcl-2 in the initial and recurrent tumor tissue after radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy and the cellular heterogeneity obtained from DNA content by image cytometry was investigated. Subjects were 7 patients who had glial tumors which were surgically removed at onset and removed a second time at recurrence. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy were also administered after initial resection. Immunoreactivity for copper/zinc super oxide dismutase (Cu/Zn SOD), GST (glutathione-S-transferase)-pi, and bcl-2 were evaluated from routinely prepared tissue blocks. Tumors were classified into two groups by cytometric analysis of DNA ploidy in the G2M cell cycle phase. One tumor group consisted of single clonal cells in both the initial and recurrent tumors and the other group consisted of tumors with polyclonal cells in the initial and recurrent tumor. In this study, one patient (case 3) with single clonal cell glioblastoma at recurrence did not show high Cu/Zn SOD activity after radiotherapy and chemotherapy but showed a short survival time after recurrence. In three patients (cases 1, 2, 3) with single clonal-cell glioblastoma, the recurrent tumor cells showed high GST-pi immunoreactivity and survival time was short after recurrence. Tumor cells in two patients (cases 5, 7) with single clonal cell anaplastic glioma at recurrence, showed high GST-pi immunoreactivity and had a short survival time after recurrence. In three single clonal glioblastomas (cases 1, 2, 3), the recurrent tumor showed the increased bcl-2 immunoreactivity and showed a short survival time after recurrence. In two patients (case 5, 7) with single clonal cell anaplastic glioma at recurrence, tumor cells showed a high bcl-2 immunoreactivity and these patients showed a short survival time after recurrence. Although the number of subjects is very small, our study shows that the immunoreactivity of bcl-2 and GST-pi in malignant gliomas may be very important factors in radio- and chemosensitivity, and shows that GST-pi is induced by radiation and anti-cancer drugs.