We looked for mutations of exons 5 to 8 of the P53 gene in 10 patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and 17p monosomy, and 36 patients with AML and no cytogenetic abnormalities of 17p. DNA was analyzed by polymerase chain reaction, single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis, and nucleotide sequencing. Four of the 10 patients with 17p monosomy showed point mutation, single-nucleotide deletion, or insertion in exons 7 or 8. By contrast, only 1 of the 36 patients with AML and no cytogenetic abnormalities of 17p showed a mutation of the P53 gene in exons 5 to 8 (P less than .01). These results suggest that alterations of the P53 gene may have a role in leukemogenesis in some cases of AML. The fact that P53 gene mutations occurred more often in patients with 17p monosomy seems to support the "recessive" model of tumor suppressive activity of the P53 gene rather than the "dominant" model, in which alteration of only one allele is sufficient for the development of malignancy.