We investigated the relationship between immunohistochemical estimates of proliferative activity and expression of bcl-2 protein and mutant p53 protein in 23 cases of soft tissue sarcoma. Furthermore, the reproducibility of estimates of proliferative activity was analysed and correlations between the variables and with mitotic score were investigated. Proliferative activity was assessed by use of monoclonal antibody MIB-1 and staining for iododeoxyuridine (IdUrd), and evaluated in multiple, random, systematically sampled fields of vision. MIB-1 indices were higher than those of IdUrd but for each case the two values were positively correlated (r = 0.78). The MIB-1 index correlated positively with mitotic score (2P < 0.001) and malignancy grade (2P = 0.001). The intraobserver reproducibility of the MIB-1 and IdUrd indices were excellent (r = 0.98 and r = 0.90, respectively). p53 expression was detected in 43% and strong bcl-2 expression was present in 57% of the studied cases. Expression of p53 and bcl-2 were not significantly correlated to proliferative activity or the histological features. We conclude, that the MIB-1 index is a reliable and reproducible estimate of proliferative activity and might improve the accuracy of conventional malignancy grading of soft tissue sarcomas. Furthermore, the results indicate that neither mutant p53 protein nor bcl-2 oncogene alone are sufficient to induce increased proliferation in these sarcomas.