Bronchiolo-alveolar carcinoma (BAC) is a type of lung adenocarcinoma characterized by growth along the alveolar wall. It is divided into two subtypes: sclerosing BAC (SBAC), which has central fibrosis, and non-sclerosing BAC (NSBAC), which lacks central fibrosis. We compared the genetic alterations in these two types of BAC with those in atypical adenomatous hyperplasia (AAH). There were 39 cases of SBAC, 19 of NSBAC and 20 of AAH. To detect the loss of heterozygosity (LOH) we used the microsatellite markers D3S1234 and D3S1300 on chromosome 3p, IFNA and D9S144 on 9p, and TP53 on 17p. We also used polymerase chain reaction-SSCP analysis and direct sequencing to examine a point mutation of the p53 gene at exons 5-8. At the TP53 locus, the frequencies of LOH showed a statistical rank-difference correlation among AAH, NSBAC and SBAC. On chromosomes 3p and 9p there were no statistical differences of LOH among AAH, NSBAC and SBAC. We detected a significant statistical rank-difference correlation in the p53 mutation among AAH, NSBAC and SBAC. These findings suggest that a process of multistep carcinogenesis from AAH through NSBAC to SBAC might occur in some cases of adenocarcinoma, and LOH of 3p and 9p might be an early event of carcinogenesis, while the p53 mutation might be a later event.