Changes in growth factor receptor expression may confer a growth advantage on tumour cells. Epidermal growth factor-receptor (EGF-R) has been associated with the genesis of bladder tumours. We sought a link between EGF-R expression and MIB-1 cell proliferation and examined their prognostic value in the progression of bladder cancer. Fresh frozen samples from 113 transitional cell carcinomas (TCC) of the bladder and 10 healthy bladders were studied by immunohistochemistry, using monoclonal antibodies for EGF-R expression and MIB-1 for cell proliferation. Qualitative and quantitative immunostaining were analyzed in relation to time to progression and compared with clinical and pathologic parameters for prognostic significance in univariate and multivariate analysis (stepwise logistic regression). EGF-R stained more intensively in invasive tumours. Median nuclear over-expression of MIB-1 was 28%. Progression free survival rate estimates (log rank test) were significantly lower in patients EGF-R positive and with MIB-1 score above 28% (P < 0.0001, P < 0.0001, respectively). Multivariate analysis indicated that MIB-1 immunostaining was the most significant independent variable and EGF-R expression had no additional prognostic value over clinical stage and grade and cell proliferation. The MIB-1 proliferation index is a stronger predictor of bladder tumour progression than is EGF-R over-expression. This marker yield significant prognostic information in addition to stage and grade and may be of value for the clinical management of superficial and invasive bladder carcinomas. The pattern of EGF-R immunostaining and its association with tumour progression makes it a candidate for antigrowth factor therapy.