Malignant rhabdoid tumor (MRT) of the soft tissue is a rare and highly aggressive tumor that occurs in infancy or childhood. It predominantly involves a deep axial location such as the neck or paraspinal region. Microscopically, the tumor is composed of a diffuse proliferation of rounded or polygonal cells with eccentric nuclei, prominent nucleoli and glassy eosinophilic cytoplasm containing hyaline-like inclusion bodies, arranged in sheets and nests. These characteristic 'rhabdoid cells' are also present in certain soft-tissue sarcomas such as synovial sarcoma, extraskeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma and leiomyosarcoma. The existence of rhabdoid cells in these other sarcomas is correlated with a worse prognosis for the patients. Cytogenetic and molecular analyses have shown abnormalities in the long arm of chromosome 22 and alteration of the hSNF5/INI1 (SMARCB1) gene in renal, extrarenal and intracranial MRT. This gene alteration has been considered to be a specific molecular event in MRT, but a recent study has also demonstrated frequent alteration of this gene in proximal-type epithelioid sarcoma (ES). Both MRT of soft tissue and proximal-type ES show immunoreactivity for vimentin, cytokeratin and epithelial membrane antigen. The tumor cells of proximal-type ES are also occasionally positive for CD34 and beta-catenin, whereas MRT of soft tissue has no immunoreaction for these markers. Detailed clinicopathological and immunohistochemical evaluations are necessary to distinguish MRT of soft tissue from proximal-type ES, because these tumors demonstrated a similar morphology and the same gene alteration.