A study was carried out to determine the frequency and distribution of mutations in the c-K-ras gene in human carcinoma tissue. The study was done on a total of 51 lung, colon and breast carcinoma tumors using a panel of oligonucleotides coding for the wild type and all possible mutations in codons 12 and 61 of c-K-ras gene. Four of 16 colon carcinomas, two of 27 lung carcinomas and one of eight breast carcinomas were found to contain mutations in codon 12. No mutations were found at position 61. Of the six possible amino acid replacements in codon 12, all but one was represented in the seven mutations identified.