A series of 58 primary human squamous cell carcinomas of the larynx (LSCCs) was examined for the expression of the p53 tumor-suppressor gene by a combined immunohistochemical and molecular approach. About 60% of the cases displayed nuclear p53 overexpression as revealed by immunostaining with PAb1801, PAb122 and PAb240 monoclonal antibodies. This phenomenon was associated with the presence of structural and/or transcriptional alterations of the p53 gene. Our results provide evidence that p53 abnormalities constitute the most frequent genetic alteration identified so far in LSCC and indicate that the abnormal accumulation of the protein correlates with the presence of p53-mutated versions. These findings, taken together with the peculiar biochemical properties of p53, support the hypothesis of a possible pathogenetic relationship between smoke carcinogen exposure and p53 inactivation in the development of this tumor type.