A monoclonal antibody able to specifically neutralize activity of the cellular proto-oncogene ras was microinjected into a variety of normal and tumor cell types in order to determine the requirement for c-ras activity during proliferation. Normal cells were always efficiently inhibited by the antibody, while most tumor cells continued to proliferate without inhibition following the injection. Tumor cells containing a mutant ras gene, however, exhibited an intermediate phenotype and were partially inhibited in proliferation by the injected anti-ras antibody. The mutant c-ras gene appears, therefore, to play a role in proliferation even of the mature tumor cell (although other gene products must also be involved). Mutations in most other tumor cells, however, fall into the class of oncogenes which promote proliferation independently of c-ras activity. In this way tumor cell proliferation is clearly distinguished from that of normal cells studied.