A monoclonal antibody to bromodeoxyuridine was used in tissue specimens previously incubated with bromodeoxyuridine to show S-phase cells by immunohistochemical technique. Biopsy specimens of normal mucosa (n = 10), hyperplastic polyps (n = 10), adenomas with low-grade dysplasia (n = 20), adenomas with high-grade dysplasia (n = 10), and invasive adenocarcinomas (n = 10) of the large bowel were studied. Labeling index and cell proliferative patterns were analyzed. No statistically significant difference was found in labeling index between normal mucosa and hyperplastic polyps or between adenomas with high-grade dysplasia and adenocarcinomas. The labeling index was significantly lower in normal mucosa and in hyperplastic polyps than in adenomas and adenocarcinomas (p less than 0.001). The difference in labeling index between adenomas with high-grade dysplasia and low-grade dysplasia was also statistically significant (0.01 less than p less than 0.05). In normal mucosa and in hyperplastic polyps the proliferative zone was confined to the lower two-thirds of the crypt; no kinetic activity was found in the upper portions of the crypt or in surface epithelium. In adenomas the labeled cells were either present in the upper third or scattered along the whole axis of the crypt and in the surface epithelium. Labeling patterns in invasive carcinomas were similar to those observed in adenomas with high-grade dysplasia. The difference in proliferative patterns between hyperplastic polyps and adenomas supports a different significance of the two polypoid lesions in the histogenesis of large bowel cancer; our results confirm the subsequent steps of the adenoma-carcinoma sequence. Immunohistochemical labeling patterns observed with monoclonal antibody to bromodeoxyuridine in polypoid and cancer lesions of the large bowel are similar to those described by autoradiographic studies.