We studied the effects of fixation time and enzymatic digestion on immunohistochemical staining for bromodeoxyuridine (BUdR) in excised rat and human gastrointestinal tissues and human brain tumors which had been fixed in formalin after intravenous administration of BUdR shortly before biopsy of tissue. In formalin-fixed rat gastrointestinal tissues not treated with proteinase, the reaction products were insufficient to identify BUdR-positive cells. Results similar to those in ethanol-fixed tissue were obtained when formalin-fixed tissue sections were treated with protease, pepsin, or trypsin. The longer the material had been fixed in formalin, the longer the incubation in proteinase required to identify BUdR-labeled nuclei. The BUdR labeling indices of formalin-fixed human brain tumor specimens treated with protease were comparable to those of ethanol-fixed tissues. Sufficient BUdR staining was obtained even in tissues fixed in formalin for prolonged periods. Therefore, the BUdR labeling index can be determined retrospectively in clinical materials stored in formalin.