Abundance and activity of p53 are predominantly regulated posttranslationally. Structural disturbance in transcribed genes induced by radiation, e.g. DNA damage, or by transcriptional inhibitors cause p53 protein stabilization by a yet unknown mechanism. Using stable and transient transfections for the analysis of p53 mutant proteins, we have ruled out a role in stabilization by UV, gamma irradiation or actinomycin C for the following putative phosphorylation sites in the p53 protein: serines 6, 9, 15, 33, 315 and 392, and threonine 18. By double mutation combinations of phosphorylations were also ruled out; 6,9; 15,18; 15,37. These mutations eliminate modifications by casein kinases I and II, DNA-PK, ATM, CDK and JNK. Also the 30 carboxyterminal amino acids are not required for induced p53 stabilization. Thus neither phosphorylations of individual amino acids nor interactions of the carboxyterminus of p53 with cellular macromolecules appear to play a role in the stabilization process. The only single prerequisite for induced stabilization of p53 is its prior destabilization by Mdm2. However, the level of active Mdm2 must be controlled carefully: overexpression of Mdm2 inhibits UV induced p53 stabilization.