CSS specifications don't define the behavior of absolute positioning within table elements. I ran a couple of tests (like this (XML)) that show clearly how browsers handle such situations. Basically, in XHTML and HTML browsers tend to honor the specified styles by using their default algorithms for tables, but in XML they full honor the specs that don't say much about this issue. In a nutshell: layouts look fine in HTML and XHTML, but they're completely broken in XML. So don't try this at home! However, it would be useful to be allowed to absolutely position elements within table elements, though in this case the CSS specifications show a lack in their definitions, mainly due to the correct rules to handle a block formatting context (BFC) in elements such as table cells.