AIMS To compare flow cytometry (FCM) with image analysis (IA) in the DNA quantitation of Wilms' tumour (WT) and to correlate data so obtained with recognised clinical and pathological prognostic parameters. METHODS Thirty six patients with histologically proved WT diagnosed between 1980-89 were investigated. Fifteen patients had stage I disease, 10 stage II, six stage III, two stage IV and three stage V. Suspension of nuclei obtained by pepsin digestion of paraffin wax embedded tumour tissue was analysed using a FAC-Scan flow cytometer, and a CAS-100 image analyser. RESULTS Tumours were concordant in most instances, however, IA identified aneuploidy in two tumour samples which were diploid by FCM. Aneuploidy was detected in 5/33 tumours with favourable histology and 3/3 with unfavourable histology. Three of 28 patients with Stage I, II and V disease and 5/8 patients with stage III and IV had aneuploid tumours. All patients with unfavourable histology died of disease. In the group with favourable histology, 4/5 patients with aneuploid tumours developed recurrent disease compared with 1/27 diploid tumours (p less than 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS Ploidy may be a useful additional prognostic indicator in Wilms' tumour with favourable histology. Larger scale studies are needed to confirm the relation of ploidy to survival in early stage WT.