We have recently reported the activation of a new oncogene in human papillary thyroid carcinomas. This oncogene, named PTC, is a novel rearranged version of the ret proto-oncogene. In fact PTC is the product of the fusion of the tyrosine kinase domain of the ret proto-oncogene with the 5'-terminal region of another gene that we have named H4. The ret proto-oncogene shows a pattern of expression restricted to neuroendocrine tissue. Its fusion with H4 allows the expression of the activated form in thyroid papillary carcinomas. Therefore the detection of ret transcripts is a tool to investigate ret activation in thyroid neoplasms. Here we show the detection by in situ hybridisation, of activated ret transcripts in human thyroid papillary neoplasms that were positive for PTC activation by Southern blot analysis. We did not find any ret transcripts in papillary carcinomas negative for PTC activation, nor in normal thyroid and in non-papillary thyroid neoplasias.