Studies testing the ability of a transfected ras oncogene to confer metastatic properties on non-metastatic cells have yielded conflicting results. Most of these studies have used recipient cells at early stages of progression (primary or immortalized, non-tumorigenic lines). In this study we tested the ability of the T24-H-ras oncogene to induce progression of tumorigenic, non-metastatic, murine LTA cells to a metastatic phenotype. Metastatic ability was assessed in complementary assays in two immune-deficient hosts, nude mice (after s.c. injection) and chick embryos (after i.v. injection), to determine if ras transfection affected metastatic properties in hosts lacking an intact immune system. Even with greatly elevated levels of ras p21 protein, pools of ras-transfected cells as well as individual clonal populations remained non-metastatic in both hosts. Serial in vivo passaging did not consistently enhance for either ras expression or metastatic ability. We conclude that expression of an activated ras oncogene in LTA cells does not induce progression from a tumorigenic to a metastatic phenotype. These results are in marked contrast to those obtained for ras expression in most other types. High levels of expression of an activated ras oncogene thus do not always promote progression from tumorigenicity to metastatic ability.