p73 gene, a new p53 homologue, has been identified: it supposedly acts as tumour suppressor gene in neuroblastoma. To clarify whether p73 might be involved in lung carcinogenesis, we examined p73 expression in resected lung cancer and paired normal lung in 60 cases using semi-quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). We also examined p73 gene status in three representative cases using Southern blot, and p53 gene alteration in 49 cases using PCR-single-strand conformation polymorphism (PCR-SSCP) and direct sequence. In 87% of the cases (52/60) p73 expression in tumour was more than twice as high as that in paired normal lung tissues, and the difference between p73 expression in tumour and normal lung tissue was significant (P < 0.0001). However, Southern blot analysis revealed that none of the cases showed p73 gene amplification. Compared with clinicopathological characteristics, p73 expression correlates significantly with histological differences and age of patient, independently (P < 0.05). Concerning p53 gene status, 43% (21/49) showed p53 gene alteration, but there was no correlation between p73 overexpression and p53 gene alteration. Our results suggest that need for further functional analysis of the role of p73 in lung carcinogenesis.