Combined use of a simple, sensitive method of DNA analysis of nucleotide substitutions, namely, single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis of polymerase chain reaction products (PCR-SSCP), and the reverse transcriptase reaction (RT) is an effective method for mRNA analysis. We used this RT-PCR-SSCP method to detect abnormal retinoblastoma (RB) gene transcripts in human tumor cell lines. Results showed the presence of two types of RB gene transcripts in a giant cell lung carcinoma cell line Lu65: a minor mRNA species with a base substitution that created a stop codon in the nucleotide sequence corresponding to exon 2 of the gene, and a major species of mRNA without the nucleotide sequence corresponding to that of exon 2. PCR-SSCP analysis of the genomic DNA also revealed that Lu65 cells contained the mutated RB allele, but not the normal allele. These results suggested that in Lu65 cells, both RB alleles were inactivated. The transcript without the exon 2 sequence, probably due to alternative splicing, was also found in all the other human cells examined, as a very minor species.