Cancers arise owing to mutations in a subset of genes that confer growth advantage. The availability of the human genome sequence led us to propose that systematic resequencing of cancer genomes for mutations would lead to the discovery of many additional cancer genes. Here we report more than 1,000 somatic mutations found in 274 megabases (Mb) of DNA corresponding to the coding exons of 518 protein kinase genes in 210 diverse human cancers. There was substantial variation in the number and pattern of mutations in individual cancers reflecting different exposures, DNA repair defects and cellular origins. Most somatic mutations are likely to be 'passengers' that do not contribute to oncogenesis. However, there was evidence for 'driver' mutations contributing to the development of the cancers studied in approximately 120 genes. Systematic sequencing of cancer genomes therefore reveals the evolutionary diversity of cancers and implicates a larger repertoire of cancer genes than previously anticipated.