We isolated a candidate choriocarcinoma suppressor gene from a PCR-based subtracted fragmentary cDNA library between normal placental villi and the choriocarcinoma cell line CC1. This gene comprises an open reading frame of 219 nt encoding 73 amino acids and contains a homeodomain as a consensus motif. This gene, designated NECC1 (not expressed in choriocarcinoma clone 1), is located on human chromosome 4q11-q12. NECC1 expression is ubiquitous in the brain, placenta, lung, smooth muscle, uterus, bladder, kidney, and spleen. Normal placental villi expressed NECC1, but all choriocarcinoma cell lines examined and most of the surgically removed choriocarcinoma tissue samples failed to express it. We transfected this gene into choriocarcinoma cell lines and observed remarkable alterations in cell morphology and suppression of in vivo tumorigenesis. Induction of CSH1 (chorionic somatomammotropin hormone 1) by NECC1 expression suggested differentiation of choriocarcinoma cells to syncytiotrophoblasts. Our results suggest that loss of NECC1 expression is involved in malignant conversion of placental trophoblasts.