Detailed histological analysis of 427 cases entered on the first National Wilms' Tumor Study revealed that lesions with foci of marked cytological atypism (anaplasia), and those composed predominantly of sarcomatous stroma, were associated with unfavorable outcome. Twenty-five patients had anaplasia, and 24 had sarcomatous lesions of which a total of 28 (57.1%) died of tumor. Three hundred and seventy-eight patients had tumors which showed neither of these features, and only 26 (6.9%) died of tumor. Seven of ten deaths due to tumor in patients diagnosed before two years of age were associated with sarcomatous lesions. Three sarcomatous patterns were recognized, of which one, designated "clear cell" sarcoma, had a predilection for bony metastases. Using criteria defined and illustrated in this paper it is possible to identify in advance those patients likely to do poorly using current therapeutic approaches.