Likely hot spots for mutations are mitochondrial sequences as there is less repair and more damage by carcinogens compared with nuclear sequences. A somatic 50-bp mitochondrial D-loop deletion was detected in four gastric adenocarcinomas. The deletion included the CSB2 region and was flanked by 9-bp direct repeats. The deletion was more frequent in adenocarcinomas arising from the gastroesophageal junction (4/32, 12.5%) compared with more distal tumors (0/45). Topographical analysis revealed the absence of the deletion from normal tissues except in focal portions of smooth muscle in one case. In two cases, apparent mutant homoplasmy was present throughout two tumors, including their metastases. In the two other cases, the mutation was present in only minor focal portions ( < 5%) of their primary tumors. These findings document the presence of somatic mitochondrial alterations in gastric cancer, which may reflect the environmental and genetic influences operative during tumor progression.