This study was undertaken to assess the prognostic effectiveness of Fuhrman nuclear grading and the individual components of this grading system, in a series of chromophobe renal cell carcinomas. Eighty-seven cases of chromophobe renal cell carcinoma were investigated. There were 47 males and 40 females, 28 to 78 years of age. The carcinomas ranged from 25 to 180 mm in size and on TNM staging there were 38 stage I, 25 stage II, 22 stage III, and 2 stage IV tumors. Whole tumor Fuhrman grading was grade 1, 6 cases; grade 2, 72 cases; grade 3, 8 cases; and grade 4, 1 case, whereas focal (single high power field) grading was grade 1, 1 case; grade 2, 62 cases; grade 3, 21 cases; and grade 4, 3 cases. On assignment of nucleolar grading using Fuhrman criteria there were 37 grade 1, 44 grade 2, and 4 grade 3 tumors on whole tumor assessment and 3 grade 1, 63 grade 2, and 21 grade 3 tumors on assessment of the high power field showing the greatest degree of nuclear pleomorphism. Measurements of nuclear size showed nuclear area to range from 26.14 to 100.74 microm2, nuclear perimeter from 19.73 to 39.28 microm, and nuclear major axis from 6.49 to 13.21 microm, whereas the ranges of measures of nuclear shape were; shape factor 0.798 to 0.890, compactness 14.260 to 15.843, and feret diameter 5.694 to 11.242. Follow-up ranged from 1 to 150 months and 8 patients died of tumor-related causes 5 to 53 months from diagnosis. On log rank testing against survival, only patient age (P=0.016) and tumor maximum diameter (P=0.0055) were significant, whereas patient sex and TNM stage were not significant. Whole tumor and focal Fuhrman grading, as well as all measures of nucleolar prominence, nuclear size, and nuclear shape showed no significant association with outcome. It is concluded that neither Fuhrman grading, nor any of the components of the Fuhrman grading system, is useful as prognostic indicators for this tumor type.