Mutations in the p53 gene are frequent genetic alterations in human hepatocellular carcinomas. We have examined 13 cases of human hepatocellular carcinomas from Germany for the presence of p53 aberrations in exons 4 to 8 of the gene by single-strand conformation polymorphism and restriction fragment-length polymorphism analyses and by sequencing of polymerase chain reaction products. Single base substitutions occurred in two human hepatocellular carcinomas: a C:G----T:A transition at a CpG site in codon 257, and a T:A----A:T transversion at codon 273. One of these point-mutated tumors and two additional tumors without point mutations demonstrated a loss of one p53 allele. None of the tumors was mutated in codons 12 or 61 of the c-Ha-ras gene.