Applying immunohistochemical procedures for the detection of eight different cytokeratin (CK) polypeptides and other differentiation markers, we compared the staining patterns of normal cutaneous structures with those of benign adnexal tumors (n=65), Syringomas exhibited a marker pattern highly reminiscent of that seen in normal dermal eccrine ducts (EMA in peripheral cells, CK 10 in intermediate cells, and CK 6, CK 19, and CEA in luminal cells). Nodular hidradenomas exhibited complex patterns suggesting relationship between tumor cells, including clear cells, and normal secretory coil cells (CK 7, CK 8, CK 19, and EMA); however, dermal-duct and epidermoid differentiation were also detectable. In both cylindromas and spiradenomas, zonal staining patterns were apparent: modified myoepithelial cells were positive for smooth-muscle-type actin, while the luminal cells mainly expressed ductal markers (CK 6 and CK 19) and, less prominently, secretory-coil markers including CK 7. Eccrine poromas exhibited a widespread reaction for CK 5/6 and EMA, analogous to peripheral dermal duct cells, but focal maturation toward inner-ductal and secretory-coil cells was also demonstrable. The staining pattern observed in trichoepitheliomas resembled that of the outer but not the inner root sheath. In conclusion, the detailed marker profiles obtained in the present study have broadened our understanding of the differentiation and nature of these highly singular tumor types.