Diagnosing monophasic fibrous and poorly differentiated synovial sarcoma (SS) on morphology alone is often a source of problems for pathologists. SS bear the t(X;18)(p11.2,q11.2) translocation, which proved to be specific for this tumor type and is currently considered one of the most reliable diagnostic criteria. To evaluate the sensitivity of immunohistochemical techniques in diagnosing monophasic fibrous SS (MFSS) and poorly differentiated SS (PDSS), we examined 60 t(X;18)(SYT-SSX)-positive cases (47 MFSS and 13 PDSS) for cytokeratin AE1/AE3, cytokeratin KL1, epithelial membrane antigen, E-cadherin, CD34, S-100 protein, alpha-smooth muscle actin, desmin, h-caldesmon, CD99, bcl2, and C-kit (CD117) antibodies. Of the four epithelial markers tested, epithelial membrane antigen proved to be the most sensitive, reacting with 100% of MFSS and 92% of PDSS, followed by cytokeratin AE1/AE3 (70% of MFSS, 46% of PDSS), cytokeratin KL1 (49% of MFSS, 38% of PDSS), and E-cadherin (47% of MFSS, 54% of PDSS). A staining for cytokeratin AE1/AE3 and/or E-cadherin was observed in 79% of MFSS and 69% of PDSS, and a staining for cytokeratin KL1 and/or E-cadherin was observed in 74% of MFSS and 62% of PDSS. S-100 protein was positive in 38% of MFSS and 23% of PDSS, and alpha-smooth muscle actin in 21% of MFSS and 8% of PDSS. Tumor cells were rarely positive for CD34 (6% of MFSS, 0% of PDSS) and desmin (2% of MFSS, 0% of PDSS). Most SS were strongly positive for bcl-2 (91% of MFSS, 92% of PDSS) and CD99 (91% of MFSS, 100% of PDSS). A weak and focal cytoplasmic reactivity for CD117 was observed in 11% of MFSS (only one case had a strong immunoreactivity) and 8% of PDSS. Staining with h-caldesmon was consistently negative. In conclusion, in keeping with literature data, our results show that reactivity for epithelial membrane antigen, cytokeratin AE1/AE3, and E-cadherin, in combination with CD34 negativity, are the most useful and sensitive markers for diagnosing monophasic fibrous and poorly differentiated t(X;18)-positive SS. They also support the fact that about one third of MFSS and one fourth of PDSS are positive for S-100 protein, a finding of diagnostic relevance when considering their distinction from other spindle to round cell sarcomas, especially malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors.