Several mutations were identified in the kinase domain of the RET proto-oncogene in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) 2B, familial medullary thyroid carcinoma (FMTC) or sporadic medullary thyroid carcinoma. We introduced seven mutations (glutamic acid 768-->aspartic acid (E768D), valine 804-->leucine (V804L), alanine 883-->phenylalanine (A883F), serine 891-->alanine (S891A), methionine 918-->threonine (M918T), alanine 919-->proline (A919P) and E768D/A919P) into the short and long isoforms of RET cDNA and transfected the mutant cDNAs into NIH3T3 cells. The transforming activity of the long isoform of Ret with each mutation was much higher that that of its short isoform. Based on the levels of the transforming activity, these mutant RET genes were classified into two groups; a group with high transforming activity (A883F, M918T and E768D/A919P) and a group with low transforming activity (E768D, V804L, S891A and A919P) (designated high group and low group). Interestingly, the level of transforming activity correlated with clinical phenotypes; high group Ret with the A883F or M918T mutation and low group Ret with the E768D, V804L or S891A mutation were associated with the development of MEN 2B and FMTC, respectively. In addition, we found that substitution of phenylalanine for tyrosine 905 present in the kinase domain abolished both transforming and autophosphorylation activities of low group Ret whereas it did not affect the activities of high group Ret.