Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) is a 36 kD nuclear protein associated with the cell cycle. A monoclonal antibody, PC10, that recognizes a fixation and processing resistant epitope has been used to investigate its tissue distribution. Nuclear PCNA immunoreactivity is found in the proliferative compartment of normal tissues. PCNA immunoreactivity is induced in lectin stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells in parallel with bromodeoxyuridine incorporation and the number of cells with PCNA immunoreactivity is reduced by induction of differentiation in HL60 cells. In non-Hodgkin's lymphomas a linear relation between Ki67 and PCNA staining was demonstrated. These data suggest that in normal tissues and lymphoid neoplasms, PCNA immunolocalization can be used as an index of cell proliferation. However, in some forms of neoplasia, including breast and gastric cancer and in vitro cell lines, the simple relation between PCNA expression and cell proliferation is lost. In some breast and pancreatic tumours there is apparent deregulation of PCNA with increased expression in tissues adjacent to the tumours. The over-expression in some tumours and in adjacent morphologically normal tissue may represent autocrine or paracrine growth factor influence on PCNA gene expression.