The ras genes give rise to a family of related proteins that have strong transforming potential. Typical in vitro studies fail to discriminate between the transforming activity of the Ras proteins. Although activating mutations in ras genes are commonly found in human disease, they are not evenly distributed between the different ras members. Instead, they are concentrated in k-ras. With the absence of evidence to suggest that k-ras DNA is more prone to mutation than h-ras DNA, this imbalance in mutational frequency suggests a special biological role for the K-Ras protein in vivo.