The p53 gene has been elucidated as a tumor suppressor gene, and inactivation of this gene caused by deletion or point mutations may play a crucial role in the development of human malignancies. In colorectal carcinomas with an allelic deletion of the p53 gene, the remaining p53 gene was mutated with considerable frequency. It is most difficult to detect point mutations or small deletions of the gene because the mutations occur in diverse regions, although four hot spots have been observed [J.M. Nigro et al., Nature (Lond.), 342: 705-708, 1989]. The polymerase chain reaction and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis facilitate detection of mutations in the hot spots of the p53 gene. Using these methods, we detected mutations in three adenomatous polyps and one carcinoma from familial polyposis coli patients and three carcinomas of sporadic cases. The DNA sequence analysis confirmed mutations of the p53 gene in 2 adenomas (13 base-pair deletions in one and a point mutation in the other) and 1 carcinoma (point mutation) from familial polyposis coli patients. These results suggest that the p53 gene mutations may be involved in the formation not only of carcinomas but also of adenomas which occur in familial polyposis coli patients.