We investigated the prognostic value of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and p53 oncoprotein expression and of nucleolar organiser region (NOR) scoring, in relation to classic clinicopathological parameters, in a series of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHL). Paraffin embedded tissue from 91 patients with NHL was stained immunohistochemically with the monoclonal antibodies PC-10 (PCNA) and DO-1 (p53) and histochemically with the AgNOR technique. The median follow-up was 48 (4 to 193) months. The impact of PCNA and p53 expression and of AgNOR number on survival was tested using univariate as well as multivariate analysis, in order to circumvent the heterogeneity in histologic grade, type and therapy. Univariate analysis identified seven variables related to overall survival: histologic type and grade, clinical stage, chemotherapy, p53 labelling index (LI), PCNA LI and AgNOR score, whereas only one parameter i.e. histologic grade influenced disease-free survival. In multivariate analysis stage, PCNA LI and AgNOR score predicted independently overall survival. PCNA was also the only independent predictor of post-relapse survival and histologic grade the most important indicator of disease-free survival. In conclusion, PCNA expression and AgNOR number may be better predictors of overall and post-relapse survival than histologic grade. The latter remains the most valuable prognostic indicator of disease-free survival.