To determine if human fibroblasts can be transformed into malignant cells by transfection of a K-ras oncogene, we transfected the provirus of Kirsten murine sarcoma virus (v-Ki-ras) into an infinite life span human cell strain, MSU-1.1, which has a normal morphology, is not anchorage independent, and has a stable, near-diploid karyotype. The transfected populations gave rise to distinct foci composed of morphologically-altered cells. The cells from several independent foci were isolated, propagated, and assayed for anchorage independence and/or tumorigenicity. They formed large-sized colonies in soft agar at a high frequency. Cell strains derived from colonies isolated from agar as well as focus-derived cell strains were injected subcutaneously into athymic mice to test for tumorigenicity. One cell strain yielded myxoid fibromas, the rest produced well-differentiated, progressively-growing, invasive, myxoid or spindle cell sarcomas. The karyotype of each of the cell strains tested, including cell strains derived from tumors, was identical to that of non-transfected MSU-1.1 cells. Two focus-derived strains, and two cell strains derived from sarcomas produced from them, were tested and shown by DNA and RNA hybridization to contain and express the v-Ki-ras oncogene. Radioimmunoprecipitation analysis showed that these strains expressed ras-specific p21 products not found in non-transfected MSU.1.1 cells. When injected intraperitoneally, a cell strain derived from a myxoid tumor gave rise to invasive myxoid tumors at various sites in the body. The same cell strain gave rise to invasive spindle cell sarcomas when injected into the tail vein of the animals.