We analyzed 14 native osteosarcoma tissue samples for alterations of the tumor suppressor genes RB1 and p53 on the DNA level, and as far as possible, the RNA level. Southern blot analyses concerning both tumor suppressor genes were carried out in all osteosarcomas. In two cases we could demonstrate a deletion within the RB1 gene. DNA analysis of a third osteosarcoma patient revealed a rearrangement of the p53 gene. We had the opportunity of performing corresponding northern analyses in eight native osteosarcoma specimens. The RB1 gene expression was significantly decreased or completely absent in six tumor samples. In two of these tissue probes the expression of both tumor suppressor genes was missing. We determined coexistence of decreased expression of both tumor suppressor genes in one additional case. In summary, 7/14 or 6/8 cases of osteosarcomas (including only those cases which allowed both analyses) showed RB1 gene alteration. In 3/14 or 3/8 osteosarcomas we could determine p53 gene abnormalities. This may indicate that either loss of p53 function is etiologically important only for the development of some osteosarcomas, or a major part of p53 gene mutations are subtle ones and their detection requires more sophisticated techniques, which are currently under development.