Tumor cells can acquire aggressive phenotypes secondary to the loss of expression of the wild-type p53 (WTp53) protein or by the gain of function for selected mutant p53 (MTp53) proteins. However, it is unclear as to whether the development of aggressive phenotypes is inter-related. Herein we report the radiosensitivity, chemosensitivity, and in vivo growth characteristics of isogenic p53(-/-) MEF ras-transformants that variably express an MTp53 protein. Initial experiments revealed significant clonal heterogeneity with respect to cellular sensitivity to DNA-damaging agents (i.e. ionizing radiation, ultraviolet radiation, cis-platinum, and methotrexate) within subclones of a pre-existing p53(-/-) MEF cell population. Moreover, this differential sensitivity was also observed within subclones of p53(-/-) MEF cells transformed with an activated ras allele, suggesting that secondary genetic events and clonal selection, but not cellular transformation per se, may drive the resistance patterns for certain null-p53 tumors. In contrast, uniform resistance was observed following the additional transfection of an MTp53 allele (MTp53pro193) into p53(-/-) MEF transformants and p53(-/-) DP-16 Friend erythroleukemia cells, consistent with a gain of MTp53 function for this allele. Relative tumor growth rate and experimental metastatic ability was not enhanced by MTp53pro193 expression. Our results support the concept that gain of MTp53pro193 function leads to the selection of dominant clones, which may exhibit cellular resistance following cancer therapy.