Proto-oncogenes represent a group of eukaryotic genes whose activated forms are implicated in the development of cancer. We have recently identified a human gene, N-myc, that is distantly related to the proto-oncogene c-myc. N-myc is expressed at abnormally high levels consequent to amplification in numerous human neuroblastoma cell lines and metastatic neuroblastoma tumours. In addition, enhanced expression of N-myc, often a result of amplification, has been found in retinoblastoma cell lines and tumours (refs 5, 7 and M.S., unpublished data) and in cell lines derived from small-cell carcinomas of the lung. Here, we show that enhanced expression of N-myc subsequent to co-transfections of an N-myc expression vector and the mutant c-Ha-ras-1(EJ) (from the human bladder carcinoma cell line EJ) is a factor in tumorigenic conversion of secondary rat embryo cells. The transformed cells elicit tumours in athymic mice and isogeneic rats. The ability of N-myc to contribute to neoplastic transformation of cultured mammalian cells raises the possibility that enhanced expression consequent to amplification of N-myc may be a factor in the aetiology of human neuroblastoma.