Anti-calretinin antibodies are useful to differentiate adenocarcinomas from malignant mesotheliomas of the lung. Therefore, calretinin expression is rarely reported for sarcomatoid mesotheliomas. Anti-podoplanin antibodies (eg D2-40) react with lymphatic endothelia, Kaposi's sarcoma, lymphangioma and mesotheliomas. For the interpretation of spindle cell lesions of the pleura, knowledge of calretinin and D2-40 expression frequencies in sarcomatoid mesothelioma is desirable. To systematically investigate the sensitivity of calretinin and D2-40 antibodies in epithelioid and sarcomatoid areas of malignant mesotheliomas, a tissue microarray with 341 malignant mesotheliomas, including 112 epithelioid, 46 sarcomatoid and 183 biphasic tumors was constructed. Epithelioid and sarcomatoid differentiated tumor areas were clearly separated within the tissue microarray. Expression of calretinin and D2-40 was separately studied in epithelioid and sarcomatoid areas by immunohistochemistry. Calretinin expression was found in 91% of epithelioid and 57% of sarcomatoid tumor areas. D2-40 immunostaining was present in 66% of the epithelioid and 30% of the sarcomatoid tumor areas. A combination of calretinin and D2-40 increased the sensitivity in epithelioid tumor areas to 0.96 and in sarcomatoid tumor areas to 0.66. These data indicate that a combination of calretinin and D2-40 will improve diagnostic accuracy for spindle cell lesions of the pleura, whereas almost all epithelioid mesotheliomas are identified by calretinin alone.