Expressions that quantitatively describe the impact of path loss and user distribution on CDMA (code division multiple access) cellular radio system performance are determined. Path loss in typical microcellular and cellular channels is shown to increase exponentially with distance to between the second and third power, as opposed to the commonly quoted fourth power law. Two performance measures, frequency reuse efficiency and bit error rate probability, are evaluated for CDMA cellular systems. Values for frequency reuse efficiency are derived for the uplink using different propagation rules and spatial distributions of subscribers in adjacent cells. Bit error rate probabilities as a function of the number of users are found for a two-cell downlink model that assumes the subscriber is straddling the cell boundaries.