Mounting evidence indicates that alterations of AKT signalling play important roles in cancer development. An earlier study discovered an oncogenic AKT1 gene mutation (AKT1 E17K) in breast, colorectal and ovarian cancers. The aim of this study was to see whether the AKT1 E17K mutation is common in breast, colorectal, lung, gastric and hepatocellular carcinomas and acute leukaemias. We analysed the presence of the AKT1 E17K mutation in 731 cancer tissues by a single-strand conformation polymorphism assay. In addition, we analysed the corresponding sequences of AKT1 E17K in AKT2 and AKT3 genes. Overall, we detected the four AKT1 E17K mutations in the breast cancers (4/93; 4.3%), but none in other cancers. There was no AKT2 or AKT3 mutation in the cancers. This study demonstrated that the AKT1 E17K mutation occurs in breast cancers at a low frequency, and that it is rare in other common cancers, including colorectal, lung, gastric and hepatocellular carcinomas and acute leukaemias. Despite the confirmed oncogenic function of the AKT1 E17K, the rare incidences of the mutation suggest that it may not play a crucial role in the development of the most common types of human cancers.