We have shown previously that nasal natural killer (NK)/T-cell lymphoma was associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and had peculiar clinical features. However, little is known about its biological and genetic changes. The aim of this study is to determine the p53, N- and K-ras, and beta-catenin status in this lymphoma in relation to EBV status and clinical features. The study group consisted of 32 Japanese patients with nasal NK/T-cell lymphoma. The p53 and beta-catenin expression, phenotype, and EBV-oncogenic protein latent membrane protein type 1 (LMP-1) were determined by immunoperoxidase staining. The presence of EBV-encoded small nuclear early region (EBER) RNA was determined by in situ hybridization. The p53 mutations (exons 5 to 9), N- and K-ras mutations (exons 1 and 2), and beta-catenin mutations (exon 3) were analyzed by direct sequencing of the PCR-amplified products that were obtained from laser-microdissected tissues. CD56, CD43, and CD3 were expressed in 32 (100%), in 31 (96%), and in 18 (56%) tumors, respectively. EBER RNA was detected in 31 (96%) tumors. LMP-1 was expressed in 15 (48%) tumors, and p53 and beta-catenin protein were overexpressed in 18 (56%) and 4 (13%) tumors, respectively. Six mutations of the p53 gene, 1 mutation of each N- and K-ras gene, and 8 mutations of beta-catenin gene were detected in 6 (19%), 1 (3%), and 5 (16%) tumors, respectively. The p53 missense mutation was associated with LMP-1 expression (P = 0.038), but not with p53 overexpression. Kaplan-Meier analysis as well as univariate analysis using Cox proportional hazards model showed that high lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) level (P = 0.009, P = 0.0100, respectively), large cell, immunoblastoid polymorphous histology (P = 0.005, P = 0.0162, respectively), and p53 missense mutations (P = 0.021, P = 0.0342, respectively) were significantly related to worse cause-specific survival. Multivariate analysis showed that p53 missense mutation was the most independent among these 3 factors. Although the incidence of thep53, N- and K-ras, and beta-catenin gene mutations is not high, p53 missense mutation has a prognostic value for aggressive course in nasal NK/T-cell lymphoma.