✓ The proliferative potential of low-grade astrocytomas was estimated in 47 patients. Each patient received an intravenous infusion of bromodeoxyuridine (BUdR), 150 to 200 mg/sq m, at the time of craniotomy to label cells in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis; the percentage of S-phase cells, or BUdR labeling index (LI), of each tumor was determined immunohistochemically. In 29 patients (60%), the tumors had BUdR LI's of less than 1%, indicating a slow growth rate; only three (10%) of these patients died of recurrent tumor during a follow-up period of up to 3½ years. In contrast, of the 18 patients (40%) whose tumors had BUdR LI's of 1% or more, 12 (67%) had a recurrence and nine died during the same follow-up period. These results show that the proliferative potential, as reflected by the BUdR LI, is an important prognostic factor that separates low-grade astrocytomas into two groups and provides a more scientific rationale for selecting treatment for individual patients.