Expression of plasminogen activators (PA), tissue type (t-PA) and urokinase type (u-PA), as well as PA inhibitors (PAI), type-1 (PAI-1) and type 2 (PAI-2), were investigated immunohistochemically in 97 human pancreatic carcinomas. u-PA expression predominated in pancreatic carcinomas, compared with t-PA [u-PA expression in 76 specimens (78.4%) and t-PA in eight specimens (8.2%)]. PAI-1 expression was detected in 80 carcinoma specimens (82.5%) and PAI-2 in 79 carcinoma specimens (81.4%). PAI-2 expression was significantly lower in carcinomas with peritoneal metastasis (p < 0.02). Strong PAI-2 expression was associated with significantly higher survival than negative or weak PAI-2 expression (p < 0.05). We conclude that immunohistochemical analysis of PAI-2 expression in pancreatic carcinomas may yield important prognostic information.