Nineteen specimens from primary human malignant mesotheliomas obtained from 19 patients were screened for activating point mutations in the oncogenes N-ras and CDK4 by combined RFLP-PCR/SSCP analysis. In addition, all tumours were screened for deletions and point mutations in the tumour suppressor genes p53, p16INK4a (CDKN2A) and p14ARF (exon-1beta) by combined multiplex-PCR/SSCP analysis. No mutations were found in N-ras, p53 and CDK4. Three tumours displayed homozygous deletion (co-deletion of exons 1, 2 and 3) of p16INK4a. One of them displayed additional homozygous deletion of p14ARF (exon-1beta). Two silent point mutations and 2 polymorphisms were found in p16INK4a in 3 tumours. Our preliminary data indicate that disarrangement of the Rb1 pathway may be involved in mesothelioma formation.