The aim of this study was to determine if the apoptotic index can be readily determined for endometrial carcinoma in hysterectomy specimens and to establish if any association exists between the apoptotic index and tumour grade and stage. The apoptotic index, defined as the percentage of morphologically identified apoptotic cells and apoptotic bodies in 3000 tumour cells, was calculated for 15 adenocarcinomas of the endometrium. An association between apoptotic index and tumour grade and stage was sought. Two grade 3 adenocarcinomas of endometrium had a higher apoptotic index (5.15% to 6.43%) than 13 grade 1 and 2 lesions (1.18% to 3.8%) and formed a distinct group in this series. No association between apoptotic index and tumour stage was demonstrable. Apoptotic index can be readily estimated in routine hysterectomy specimens for endometrial adenocarcinoma. A high apoptotic index shows an association with features normally correlated with a poor clinical outcome although its value as an independent prognostic index has yet to be established.