The number of nucleolar organizing regions (NORs) can be used to reveal the degree of cell activity or metabolism in histopathology specimens. Forty-one cases of pleomorphic adenomas of the salivary glands were studied with a silver nitrate colloid staining method to demonstrate the NORs in the cells of the solid and duct pattern areas and in chondroid areas. Acinic and intercalated ducts cells of the surrounding normal salivary glands were also examined. The data was analyzed statistically and it was found that the cells in the solid/ductal areas had a higher cellular activity than the chondroid cells. This difference is probably directly related with the possibility of malignant transformation and the incidence of the different types of malignant pleomorphic adenomas. Furthermore, it is concluded that the number of NORs in pleomorphic adenomas to define malignancy should be done discriminating between the different histologic patterns because of their different metabolic activities.