We examined the expression of p53 protein by immunohistochemical method in a series of pancreatic tumors and evaluated its relationships to the clinicopathological factors and prognosis. The study involved 108 cases of pancreatic tumors (79 ductal carcinomas, 1 acinar cell carcinoma, 14 endocrine tumors, 6 solid cystic tumors, 8 benign ductal tumors) and 8 chronic pancreatitides. Thirty-nine cases of pancreatic ductal carcinoma (49.4%) were positive for p53 protein. Analysis of the Cox hazards model identified p53 positivity and stage at the initial operation as an independent prognostic factor. Patients with p53 positive ductal carcinomas had a greater risk of death compared to p53 negative cases (P < 0.05). There was, however, no statistically significant correlation between p53 protein expression and other clinicopathological factors. Cases of stage III and IVb with positive p53 showed a bleak prognosis compared to p53 negative cases (P < 0.05). Our results suggest that p53 expression is common in invasive pancreatic ductal carcinomas and may have a prognostic value.