Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a clinicopathologic entity that is difficult to diagnose on histopathologic criteria. Approximately 50% to 70% of MCL contain a t(11;14)(q13;q32) translocation involving the cyclin D1 gene. Irrespective of this rearrangement, almost all MCL show overexpression of the cyclin D1 gene at the mRNA level. Other B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHL) do not show this rearrangement or overexpression of cyclin D1. We developed an immunohistochemical assay to detect overexpression of the cyclin D1 protein on conventional formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded biopsies using the well-defined monoclonal antibody DCS-6. Expression in tumor cells was compared with expression of cyclin D1 in endothelial cells and fibroblasts. An exclusively nuclear staining pattern was observed. Moreover, expression was directly compared with the expression observed by immunoblot analysis with the same antibody, as well as with mRNA expression and with the occurrence of genomic rearrangements within the BCL-1 locus. Of 13 MCL that were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and immunoblot, 12 showed overexpression with both techniques, whereas no overexpression was observed in 39 other NHL. Of 13 additional MCL studied either by immunohistochemistry or immunoblot, 11 also showed overexpression. Two lymphomas morphologically indistinguishable from MCL but with an aberrant immunophenotype (CD5 negative, CD10 positive) both lacked overexpression of cyclin D1. These results underscore the significance of overexpression of the cyclin D1 protein as a specific marker for MCL. Detection of cyclin D1 overexpression on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues using the DCS-6 monoclonal antibody can be applied for routine diagnostic purposes.