Stat proteins are latent transcription factors activated by tyrosine phosphorylation downstream of cytokine and growth factor receptors and have been implicated in a variety of cell growth regulatory pathways. Constitutive phosphorylation has also been observed in various transformed cell line and in primary malignant tissue, suggesting that Stat protein activation may contribute to the transformed phenotype. One method to distinguish between a causative role in malignancy as opposed to bystander phosphorylation from the increased tyrosine phosphorylation that accompanies transformation is to investigate cell growth and malignancy in the absence of particular Stat proteins using targeted gene disruptions in transgenic mice. Such studies show that Stat1 primarily mediates growth inhibitory signals and contributes to the host rejection of tumors, and that its activation in transformed cells is not necessary for malignancy. Activation of Stat5 can be both necessary and sufficient for malignant transformation, and single Stat5-target genes have been identified that are critical for heightened proliferation. Nonetheless, some malignancies that are characterized by constitutively phosphorylated Stat5 are not altered by the loss of Stat5 protein. Its role in these cases may be redundant with other transforming events that are in themselves sufficient to cause disease, rendering tyrosine phosphorylation of Stat5 unnecessary in these transformed cells. Oncogene (2000).