Tissue samples from patients with carcinoma of the prostate of various Gleason grades were examined for the frequency of apoptotic bodies. Apoptotic bodies were scored by morphometric methods using hematoxylin-eosin (HE)-stained sections from surgical specimens of prostate cancer. Non-neoplastic prostate tissue adjacent to foci of cancer showed a very low frequency of apoptotic bodies. Significantly larger numbers of apoptotic bodies were observed in the areas of carcinoma than in the non-neoplastic control tissues, regardless of Gleason grade. Interestingly, a positive correlation was noted between apoptotic bodies and increasing Gleason grade. The positive correlation suggests that increased programmed cell death is a feature of the increasing malignant potential that is associated with higher Gleason grade in prostate cancer.