Few molecular genetic alterations have been identified in endometrial cancers that are associated with poor clinical outcome. Overexpression of HER-2/neu, transforming growth factor alpha, and p53 proteins have all been associated with poor prognosis in women with endometrial cancer. In this study, the level of HER-2/neu gene amplification and expression was characterized in 92 endometrial cancers. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was used to characterize HER-2/neu gene copy number, and immunohistochemistry was used to characterize expression. Forty-seven of the 90 (52%) endometrial cancers were characterized as showing moderate or high immunostaining. HER-2/neu gene amplification was detected in 17 of 81 (21%) cases. Immunohistochemical staining and FISH results were both available for 80 cases. Fourteen of these cases showed both moderate or high immunostaining and gene amplification. Clinical follow-up information was available for 76 women in this study. Women whose endometrial cancer exhibited HER-2/neu gene amplification by FISH had a shorter overall survival than women whose endometrial cancer lacked amplification (P = 0.018). Likewise, tumors with moderate or high HER-2/neu immunostaining were associated with a lower cumulative overall survival than tumors with low immunostaining by log rank analysis (P < 0.0001). Multivariate analysis of survival rates revealed HER-2/neu overexpression to be an independent predictor of overall survival (P = 0.0163). Among those patients with HER-2/neu overexpression, adjuvant chemotherapy or radiation therapy was associated with an improved overall survival (P = 0.039). However, among those women whose tumor lacked overexpression, overall survival was not improved by adjuvant treatment.