Standard immunohistochemical methods were used to detect the presence of vimentin, cytokeratin 8, cytokeratin 18, macrophages and Langerhans cells in the human tonsillar epithelium in formalin-fixed and frozen tissue specimens. Vimentin detection was restricted to infiltrating cells of the lymphoid series, dendritic and vascular endothelial cells. All epithelial cells were negative. Cytokeratin 8 and 18 were readily detected in a large proportion of epithelial cells lining the crypt, but these cells bore no resemblance to the intestinal M-cells. Langerhans cells and macrophages were seen in both the oropharyngeal and crypt epithelium and were more common in the latter. This study confirms the presence of antigen-presenting cells, macrophages and Langerhans cells in the tonsillar epithelium and shows that intermediate filament proteins, vimentin, cytokeratin 8 and 18 are unreliable markers for human tonsillar M-cells, if indeed such cells exist in human tonsils.