To examine the suggested biological difference between Japanese and British gastric cancers, immunohistochemistry was used to demonstrate eight markers of biological activity in a matched series of 40 Japanese and 33 British cases. There were no differences in the proportions of Japanese and British tumours positive to epidermal growth factor, epidermal growth factor receptor, transforming growth factor alpha, cripto or p53. A significantly greater proportion of British tumours were positive to c-erbB-2 whilst a significantly greater proportion of Japanese tumours were positive to nm23. British tumours had a significantly greater mean proliferating cell nuclear antigen proliferation index than Japanese tumours. These differences could be clinically significant.