There is strong association of Barrett's oesophagus (BO) with adenocarcinoma. The sequence of events preceding malignancy appears to be reflux oesophagitis - ulceration - BO - dysplasia. One hundred and five biopsies of heterotopic columnar epithelium were stained for H&E, PAS/Alcian Blue and HID/Alcian Blue for the routine histology and neutral/acidic sialo- and sulphomucin staining. Other sections were silver impregnated by the Grimelius technique. Immunohistochemical techniques were applied for the assessment of the accumulation of p53 protein, "S" phase of the replication cell cycle using proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), marked for cell differentiation and proliferation using EGF and TGFa. 105 cases of heterotopic columnar epithelium consisted of 74 cases of BO, 25 junctional and 7 corpus mucosa. Dysplastic BO (n = 9) showed similar amount of sulphomucin and endocrine cell number when compared to non-dysplastic. PCNA study revealed a close similarity between dysplastic, indefinite for dysplasia and non-dysplastic, mucosal positive counts. Growth factors activity was significantly higher in dysplastic and indefinite than in non-dysplastic, but no such difference was found between dysplastic and indefinite for dysplasia BO. There was a significant concurrent p53 expression in dysplastic and indefinite for dysplasia BO. In conclusion, the practical utility of mucin stainings, endocrine cell count, assessment of cell proliferation and differentiation by PCNA, EGF and TGFa seems to be limited in differentiation of the dysplastic and indefinite for dysplasia BO. Altered expression of p53, particularly in combination with EGF and TGFa, may be useful in studying these lesions.