Summary Immunohistochemical study of 130 pituitary adenomas shows that 31% are prolactin-containing adenomas, two-thirds of which are monohormonal adenomas, i.e. prolactin cell adenoma, and one-third are multihormonal adenomas, i.e. mixed growth hormone cell-prolactin cell adenoma and plurihormonal adenoma with prolactin. Clinical symptoms including amenorrhea and galactorrhea are not useful in distinguishing prolactin from non-prolactin adenomas. Serum prolactin concentration of 80 ng/ml is a good cut-off point to distinguish prolactin cell adenoma from non-prolactin adenoma but can not separate many of the multihormonal adenomas from non-prolactin adenomas. Calcification is not only more commonly seen but also more prominent in prolactin-containing adenomas. Spheroid amyloid is present in one prolactin cell adenoma. Immunohistochemistry is specific and reliable in identifying prolactin-containing adenomas. All prolactin cell adenomas and 2/13 multihormonal adenomas show paranuclear staining of prolactin in almost every adenoma cell. The remaining (11/13) multihormonal adenomas show less prolactin cells and diffuse cytoplasmic staining of prolactin. The prolactin staining pattern in the latter group is unique and appears to be indicative of the presence of other hormone(s).