Further to detailed genetic and biochemical characterisation of AUA1 as a surface glycoprotein present on epithelial cells, the antibody against AUA1 was used as an immunocytochemical marker of epithelial cells in body cavity fluids in an attempt to improve the diagnosis made on routine staining. AUA1 was initially tested in 144 morphologically clear cut effusions. It was positive in 46 of 52 (88%) carcinomas and negative in 82 of 84 (98%) benign effusions, including technically inadequate or poorly cellular preparations. There were no false positive results. AUA1 was subsequently used more selectively--that is, in 42 of 175 (24%) of morphologically difficult fluids. AUA1 provided essential diagnostic information in 15 of 42 (36%) and confirmed diagnosis in 17 of 42 (40%), thus enabling accurate diagnosis in a further 32 of 42 (76%) of the difficult cases. The total diagnostic accuracy was therefore 94.3%. AUA1 is a reliable immunocytochemical marker for detecting epithelial cells in body fluids. Its use improves diagnostic accuracy of morphological assessment in difficult cases.