The p16/MTS1/CDKN2 gene and the cyclin D1/PRAD-1 gene cooperatively regulate cyclin-dependent kinase 4-mediated phosphorylation of pRB in the cell cycle of normal cells. p16/CDKN2 gene and cyclin D1/PRAD-1 gene alterations have been detected in squamous cell carcinoma cell lines and in several primary squamous cell carcinomas of the esophagus. We immunohistochemically assessed p16 and cyclin D1 expression in 111 squamous cell carcinomas of the esophagus after evaluation of the antibodies against p16 and cyclin D1 protein using four squamous cell carcinoma cell lines. Loss of p16 expression was detected in 56 of 111 cases (50%). The mean number of metastatic lymph nodes without p16 expression was significantly higher than the number of nodes with p16 expression (P = 0.04). The postoperative survival rate for patients without p16 expression was significantly lower than that of patients with p16 expression (P = 0.04). Cyclin D1 overexpression was found in 28 of the 111 cases (25%) and correlated with distant organ metastasis after curative surgery (P = 0.05). The survival rate of patients with cyclin D1 overexpression was significantly lower than that of patients without cyclin D1 overexpression (P = 0.01). A positive correlation between the loss of p16 expression and cyclin D1 overexpression was observed (P = 0. 03). The loss of p16 expression and overexpression of cyclin D1 may be useful prognostic indicators in patients with squamous cell carcinomas of the esophagus. It may be possible to select more suitable treatment for patients with squamous cell carcinomas of the esophagus by evaluating the status of p16 and cyclin D1 expression.