Molecular characterization of eight gastric cancer cell lines established in Japan are summarized according to the genetic and epigenetic alterations and growth factor status. TMK-1 poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma cell line harbors mutant p53 tumor suppressor gene and rearrangement of p15MTS2. MKN-1 adenosquamous carcinoma line with mutant p53 reveals silencing of E-cadherin by promoter CpG hypermethylation. MKN-7 well-differentiated adenocarcinoma cell line has amplification of c-erbB2 oncogene and cyclin E gene. MKN-28 well-differentiated adenocarcinoma cell line reveals mutations in p53 and APC tumor suppressor genes and silencing of CD44. The MKN-45 poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma cell line with wild-type p53 is characterized by homozygous deletion of p16CDKN2/MTS1/INK4A and p15MTS2, amplification of c-met oncogene and promoter mutation of E-cadherin. MKN-74 derived from moderately differentiated tubular adenocarcinoma has wild-type p53. KATO-III signet ring cell carcinoma line has genomic deletion of p53, amplification of K-sam and c-met oncogene and mutation of E-cadherin. HSC-39 signet ring cell carcinoma cell line harboring p53 missense mutation has homozygous deletion of p16CDKN2/MTS1/INK4A and p15MTS2, amplifications of c-myc, c-met, K-sam and CD44 gene and mutation in beta-catenin gene.