A polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-mediated RNase protection analysis was performed to detect subtle genetic alterations of p53 in medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) and pheochromocytoma. None of the 30 pheochromocytomas showed abnormal RNase protection patterns. Only one of 32 MTCs showed an abnormal pattern, and subsequent DNA sequencing of the PCR product revealed that it had a G to C transversion in codon 49 that resulted in a change from aspartic acid to histidine. However, this was a sporadic MTC with no specific clinicopathological characteristics. On the basis of a previous report that genes on chromosome 17p were not deleted in MTCs and were relatively infrequently deleted in pheochromocytomas, our results suggest that the p53 gene is not involved in tumorigenesis of MTC or pheochromocytoma.