Deletion of p53, which is an anti-oncogene located on chromosome 17p, was reported to be present at a high incidence in tumor cells of colorectal carcinoma, as well as osteosarcoma of the familial cancer syndrome. Mutations of the p53 gene were investigated in 59 surgical specimens of primary carcinomas of the urinary system from 57 patients, using the polymerase chain reaction single-strand conformation polymorphism (PCR-SSCP) analysis. The PCR products were sequenced using the dideoxy chain termination method or the DNA sequencer. The tumors examined were 20 transitional cell carcinomas (TCC) and 39 renal cell carcinomas (RCC). Mutations of the p53 gene were detected in 20.0% (4/20) of TCC and were present in 16.7% (1/6) of the tumors invading the muscular layer. In two patients with simultaneous double bladder TCC, the mutations were found only in the larger tumors. In RCC, mutations were detected in 7.7% (3/39) of patients. No significant correlation between the presence of the mutation and the clinicopathologic parameters was found in RCC except that the three tumors with p53 gene mutations were clear cell carcinomas. These results suggest that p53 gene mutations play a possible role in both carcinogenesis and progression of TCC, but the p53 gene mutations may not be significant in development of RCC.