Although a large number of immunohistochemical markers that can facilitate the differential diagnosis between epithelioid pleural mesothelioma and lung adenocarcinoma involving the pleura have proven to be valuable, no single antibody has demonstrated absolute sensitivity and/or specificity in making this distinction. Using immunohistochemical analysis with h-caldesmon, a specific marker for smooth muscle tumors, we examined 70 cases of epithelial mesotheliomas and 70 cases of lung adenocarcinomas. In addition, immunohistochemistry for muscle markers, such as desmin, alpha-smooth-muscle actin, muscle-specific actin, myoglobin, myogenin, myosin, and MyoD-1, was performed on all mesothelioma cases. Reactivity for h-caldesmon was obtained in 68 (97%) of the 70 epithelial mesotheliomas, but in none of the adenocarcinoma cases. All mesothelioma cases were found to be negative for the other muscle markers examined. We conclude that h-caldesmon is a highly sensitive and specific marker and suggest its inclusion in the immunohistochemical panel for the differential diagnosis of epithelioid mesothelioma versus lung adenocarcinoma.