Both inactivation of p53 function and loss of sensitivity to Fas contribute to a malignant phenotype and frequently occur during tumor progression. Although in the majority of cases only one of the p53 alleles is mutated, some tumors acquire mutations in both alleles of the p53 gene. To determine the biological significance of this phenomenon, we analyzed p53 mutants, p53(223Leu) and p53(274Phe), from Fas-resistant prostate carcinoma cell line DU145. Both mutants differed from wild-type p53 in their conformation, transactivation ability, and effect on the growth of p53-deficient cells, with p53(223Leu) being more similar to wild-type p53 than was p53(274Phe). Interestingly, the biological effect of coexpression of the DU145-derived mutants was dramatically different from that of each mutant expressed alone. Whereas neither of the two mutants was found to be dominant-negative against wild-type p53, each neutralized the other's growth-suppressive effects and, in combination, were capable of down-regulating Fas expression and converting Fas-sensitive prostate carcinoma cells PC3 into Fas-resistant ones. These results indicate that two different p53 mutants that are separately rather weak can cooperate to generate p53 protein with anti-Fas function that is likely to provide additional selective advantages to the tumor.