Genetic alterations of the c-myc locus in various malignancies and the ability of c-myc to transform cultured cells and induce tumors in transgenic animals attest to its central role in many neoplasms. By dissecting the c-Myc protein, a number of critical functional domains of c-Myc have been identified and characterized; these findings suggest a model for c-Myc function and intracellular activity (Fig. 4). c-Myc is synthesized in the cytoplasm and undergoes oligomerization another protein such as Max. Its nuclear localization signal allows c-Myc to be targeted to and retained in the nucleus, where the protein seeks out and binds to specific DNA sites, perhaps facilitated by c-Myc's ability to bind non-specifically to DNA. Once bound to specific DNA sequences, c-Myc then activates or inhibits transcription of a number of target genes, with consequent alterations in cell growth and differentiation. Continued studies of c-Myc and its partner Max should further elucidate the mechanisms by which c-Myc can contribute both to the regulation of normal cell growth and the alteration in that regulation in neoplasia.