Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) is an auxiliary protein to DNA polymerase delta and is an absolute requirement for cellular proliferation. Specialized-type Barrett's columnar-lined esophagus (CLE) is associated with adenocarcinomatous change. In the present study, the cellular proliferation of three histological types of CLE was assessed by semiquantitative evaluation of PCNA immunolocalization in 93 biopsy specimens from 45 patients using the murine monoclonal PC10. Statistical comparison was performed by the Mann-Whitney U test. Luminal surface cell labeling was uncommon in all histological types other than specialized CLE where 25 of the 43 biopsy specimens had at least occasional luminal surface cell labeling. Mean crypt labeling score of 4.06 for specialized type exceeded that for junctional (mean, 3.12; P < 0.001) and fundic types (mean, 1.6; P < 0.001). Gland cell PCNA staining scores for specialized-type CLE (mean, 3.18) exceeded that of junctional (mean, 1.97; P < 0.001) and fundic (mean, 1.04; P < 0.001). Summated PCNA scores for specialized-type, mean of 8.29, exceeded junctional mean score of 5.45 (P < 0.001) and fundic mean score of 2.76 (P < 0.001). PCNA immunolocalization reveals a high proportion of cells in cycle in the specialized-type CLE and expansion of the proliferative compartment, which may explain the association of specialized-type CLE with malignancy.