Thirty-eight patients undergoing surgical removal of neuroectodermal tumors of the central nervous system were given a 1-hour intravenous infusion of bromodeoxyuridine (BUdR), 150 to 200 mg/sq m, to label tumor cells in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis phase (S-phase). The excised tumor specimens were divided into two portions: one was fixed with 70% ethanol and embedded in paraffin and the other was digested with an enzyme cocktail to make a single-cell suspension. The paraffin-embedded tissues were stained by an indirect peroxidase method using anti-BUdR monoclonal antibody (MA) as the first antibody. Single-cell suspensions were reacted with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated anti-BUdR MA's for flow cytometric analysis. S-phase cells that had incorporated BUdR into their DNA were well stained by both methods. The percentage of BUdR-labeled cells, or S-phase fraction, was calculated in tissue sections by microscopic examination and in single-cell suspensions by flow cytometric analysis. The biological malignancy of the tumors was reflected in the S-phase fractions, which were 5% to 20% for glioblastoma multiforme, medulloblastoma, and highly anaplastic astrocytoma, but less than 1% in most moderately anaplastic astrocytomas, ependymomas, and mixed gliomas. Two juvenile pilocytic astrocytomas and two low-grade astrocytomas from children had high S-phase fraction despite the fairly benign and slow-growing nature of these tumors. These results indicate that the S-phase fraction obtained immunocytochemically with anti-BUdR MA's may provide useful information in estimating the biological malignancy of human central nervous system tumors in situ.