We screened 90 cases of gastric carcinoma (GCA) samples for beta-catenin exon 3 mutation and assessed its possible relationship with microsatellite instability (MSI). Three mutations were detected in two samples, including a single mutation in an intestinal type and double mutations in a diffuse type GCA. One of the mutations found in the diffuse type GCA sample was a non-sense mutation at codon 68 (CAG-->TAG). This novel mutation was predicted to disrupt the binding of beta-catenin to alpha-catenin and may be related to the diffuse type morphology. The other two mutations were missense mutations involved or related to the GSK-3beta phosphorylation site, which have been reported previously. No MSI can be demonstrated in the two cases with beta-catenin mutation. Our results suggested that beta-catenin mutation was infrequent in GCA and appeared not specific for MSI.