Functional alterations or loss of tumor-suppressor genes are an important feature of neoplastic progression in humans. The employment of suitable animal model systems would greatly facilitate the detection and manipulation of such genes. We describe here an experimental approach to this problem based on the analysis of skin tumors induced in F1 hybrids between Mus musculus and Mus spretus mice. The results show that loss of heterozygosity on chromosome 11 occurred in 4/13 mouse skin carcinomas, but not in premalignant papillomas. Since the murine p53 gene is located on this chromosome, immunoprecipitation and DNA-sequencing studies were carried out on tumorigenic cell lines and primary tumor DNA respectively to determine the status of p53 alleles. These studies revealed the presence of p53 mutations, both frameshifts and missense, some of which are identical to those found in human tumors. Loss of normal p53 function is found in well-differentiated squamous-cell carcinomas and thus does not appear to be directly responsible for further progression to an undifferentiated spindle cell phenotype.