the aim was to analyze the protein expression of apoptotic genes caspase-3, caspase-8 and bcl-2 with the immunohistochemistry technique, correlating with tumor grade (i, ii and iii) and with the patient survival in order to understand the basic mechanism of tumoral transformation. the immunohistochemistry reactions on 50 samples of squamous cell carcinoma were carried out with the avidin-biotin immunoperoxidase method and antigen recovery. the analyses were made using the graduation method "in crosses" (0 to 4 crosses - no stain to more than 75% of positives cells) and in categories (low, intermediate, high) of the cytoplasm immunoreactivity of the epidermoid penile carcinoma cells. it was observed a statistically significant difference when the expression of caspase-3 were compared with the grades i and ii of the tumor (p=0.0010) and when comparing the patient survival with the grades i and ii of the tumor (p=0.0212). the protein bcl-2 was more expressed than caspase-3 and caspase-8 proteins, suggesting that the apoptotic rate in this carcinoma is low. the higher expression of the anti-apoptotic protein bcl-2 suggests a higher preservation of the tumoral cells.