The molecular basis for parathyroid carcinoma remains undetermined. Parathyroid carcinoma potentially remains curable by early en bloc resection. This requires a reliable diagnostic tool as histological features alone are insufficient to distinguish parathyroid carcinoma from its benign counterpart, parathyroid adenoma. A variety of human cancers arise from the inactivation of the retinoblastoma (RB) gene, a tumour-suppressor gene on chromosome 13q14. We investigated the role of this gene in parathyroid growths by using a mouse monoclonal antibody to detect RB gene expression immunohistochemically. Two of the three parathyroid carcinomas in this study showed evidence of RB gene inactivation compared with one of ll benign parathyroid entities. Three normal parathyroid glands stained showed strong evidence of RB gene expression in all three glands. The relationship between RB gene inactivation and parathyroid malignancy, however, was not statistically significant.