Alteration of the p53 tumor suppressor gene is the most common genetic abnormality in human cancer. In breast cancer, depending on the stage of disease and method of detection, mutation rates of 25-60% have been observed. Multiple mutations of p53 gene in the same tumor however, are rarely reported. In this study we explored the frequency of multiple mutations of p53 gene in mammary carcinoma in a cohort of south Florida patients. Three hundred eighty-four cases of primary breast cancer diagnosed between 1984 and 1986 at the University of Miami, Jackson Medical Center were subjects of this study. Sequence analysis of exons 5 through 8 of p53 was performed on cloned PCR-amplified DNA of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumors. Two hundred thirty-four of 384 breast cancers (61%) had p53 mutation. Of those, 36 tumors showed more than one mutation; 31 tumors had two mutations, three showed three, one tumor had five mutations, and one case carried six mutations. The majority of mutations were missense (43) followed by silent (35); and most occurred within a single exon. Our study suggests that multiple mutations of p53 suppressor gene in breast cancer are more common than currently believed.