Fifty-two specimens of body cavity fluids from 52 patients were analyzed with conventional cytology, immunocytochemistry, and flow cytometric DNA ploidy methods to evaluate the most appropriate way of applying and interpreting immunocytochemistry and to evaluate the contribution of DNA ploidy analysis to conventional cytology in the diagnosis of body cavity fluids. The results suggest that conventional cytology still has an important role in the diagnosis of body cavity fluids. MOC 31 is the most sensitive monoclonal antibody for distinguishing benign mesothelial cells from malignant epithelial cells. Immunocytochemistry with the combination of cytokeratin, desmin, and MOC 31 with or without epithelial membrane antigen is suggested as a helpful ancillary method for the differential diagnosis of body cavity fluids. Flow cytometric DNA ploidy analysis also provides additional information in some difficult cases. Appropriate integration of clinical information and results of conventional cytology, immunocytochemistry, and flow cytometry are necessary to achieve the most accurate diagnosis in patients with effusion involving a body cavity.