Interest has recently been shown in adapting the microwave oven heating technique for antigen retrieval to routine diagnostic immunocytochemical practice. Although it has proved effective as a specialist method for individual antigen localization in many laboratories, it has certain drawbacks which have hampered its wider routine application. These include the need to monitor the sections during the microwave treatment to prevent damage or drying, the limited number of sections that can be accommodated in the microwave oven, and the inevitable alteration in nuclear morphology induced by the microwaves. In order to obviate these difficulties, we have modified the wet autoclave method of Shin et al. (Lab Invest 1991; 64: 693-702) as a routine technique for retrieval of a variety of cell surface, cytoplasmic, and nuclear antigens in formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue. The technique produces even enhancement of several refractory antigens in anatomically different sites and has the potential to handle reliably up to 200 sections at a time without significant damage to the section or to nuclear morphology.