Abnormalities of the p53 gene have been identified in many malignancies, with reports of aberration in over half of colorectal, lung, breast and hepatocellular carcinoma cases. The normal gene acts as a recessive oncogene, while mutations change the apparent function to that of a dominant oncogene. In this investigation a 3-layered immunoperoxidase technique was applied to routinely fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue sections from 125 gastric carcinomas, using a polyclonal anti-p53 antibody (CM-I). We found that 57% of these carcinomas expressed high levels of p53 protein (positive nuclear staining). Survival analysis revealed a strong association between p53 status of the tumour and patient survival time after diagnosis (p = 0.02, Mantel-Cox Test); odds ratio of death, 2.09 (95% confidence interval 1.02 to 4.25). The 5-year survival of patients with p53-expressing tumours was 24%, compared with 56% for those non-p53-expressing tumours (the median survival times were 13 and 102 months, respectively).