The transforming activity of DNA from a newly established undifferentiated human colon carcinoma cell line (MIP-101) was tested in the NIH-3T3 transfection assay. Southern blot analysis of the transfectant DNA revealed the presence of a human N-ras oncogene. Treatment of MIP-101 cells with the maturational agent sodium butyrate induced a more normal phenotype, including diminished growth rate, elimination of anchorage independent growth, and decreased tumorigenicity (R. Niles, S. Wilhelm, P. Thomas, and N. Zamcheck (1988) J. Cancer Invest. 6, 39). Here we report that there is a significant reduction in the transforming efficiency of the DNA from butyrate-treated MIP-101 cells. A nonspecific reduction in total DNA uptake as an explanation for these findings was eliminated by showing that there was similar uptake and expression of the thymidine kinase gene from the DNA of butyrate-treated and control MIP cells. Butyrate treatment had no detectable effect on the overall structure, methylation, and level of expression of the human N-ras gene from MIP-101 cells. An NIH-3T3 transformant ability after treatment with sodium butyrate. Although butyrate suppressed several transformed properties similar to MIP-101 cells, DNA from control and treated cultures had an identical level of transforming activity. The results suggest that the environment of the MIP cells may contain additional elements not present in the NIH-3T3 transformants which are required to observe the effect of butyrate on reduction of transforming activity.