The authors investigated whether immunocytochemical staining with a monoclonal antibody to proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA/cyclin) could be used to identify proliferative hepatocytes in frozen sections fixed in a mixture of periodate, lysine, and 2% paraformaldehyde. Paraffin sections also were used, which were fixed in 10% formaldehyde. Specimens of liver tissue were obtained from 27 patients with various hepatic diseases. Hepatocytes that were positive for PCNA/cyclin were observed in both types of substrate specimens. In acute hepatitis and chronic active hepatitis, most hepatocytes that were labeled for PCNA/cyclin were located near necrotic foci. However, in cirrhosis, they were detected most often near fibrotic septa; the number of immunoreactive cells varied greatly in different areas of tissue sections in such cases. In hepatocellular carcinoma, many PCNA/cyclin-positive tumor cells were seen throughout the neoplasms. Hepatocytes that were positive for DNA polymerase-alpha showed a similar distribution pattern in serial sections of study cases.