The present study characterised p53 mutations in 44 hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) from Chinese patients residing in a high-incidence area. Twelve point mutations (27%) were detected in tumour tissues using single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis followed by direct DNA sequencing. Remarkably, no mutations were observed at codon 249. This is in contrast to HCCs from other high HCC incidence areas with endemic aflatoxin exposures, in which codon 249 is a mutational hot spot. It is therefore suggested that risk factors other than dietary exposure to aflatoxin may contribute to the high HCC incidence in Singapore.