The tumour suppressor genes, TP53 and RB1, and four genes involved in their regulation, INK4a, ARF, MDM2 and MDMX, were analysed in a series of 36 post-radiotherapy radiation-induced sarcomas. One-third of the tumours developed in patients carrying a germline mutation of RB1 that predisposed them to retinoblastoma and radiation-induced sarcomas. The genetic inactivation of RB1 and/or TP53 genes was frequently observed in these sarcomas. These inactivations were owing to an interplay between point mutations and losses of large chromosome segments. Radiation-induced somatic mutations were observed in TP53, but not in RB1 or in the four other genes, indicating an early role of TP53 in the radio-sarcomagenesis. RB1 and TP53 genes were biallelically coinactivated in all sarcomas developing in the context of the predisposition, indicating that both genes played a major role in the formation of these sarcomas. In the absence of predisposition, TP53 was biallelically inactivated in one-third of the sarcomas, whereas at least one allele of RB1 was wild type. In both genetic contexts, the TP53 pathway was inactivated by genetic lesions and not by the activation of the ARF/MDM2/MDMX pathway, as recently shown in retinoblastomas. Together, these findings highlight the intricate tissue- and aetiology-specific relationships between TP53 and RB1 pathways in tumorigenesis.