Prostatic carcinoma from 65 patients have been examined for the occurrence of point mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene locus within the region of exons 5 to 8. Overall, only a small fraction of tumors (12.3%) was found to contain p53 mutations. No significant correlation was detected between the presence of the mutant gene and either tumor volume or histopathological grade. However, metastatic prostatic tumors are found to display a higher percentage (21.4%) of p53 mutations compared with primary adenocarcinomas (9.8%). Analysis of the topographical distribution of the p53 mutant genotype revealed two remarkable findings. First, multifocal tumors within a prostate appear to differ in harboring the mutant gene, and second, evidence is obtained for intratumor heterogeneity in the distribution of the mutant p53 allele. Together these findings appear to explain, at least in part, why there has been a wide discrepancy in the reported detection frequency of p53 mutations in prostate cancer specimens. It appears that the outcome of mutation analysis would depend not only on which tumors but also which regions of the tumors are included in the study. Furthermore, the observed heterogeneous topographical distribution of the mutation, if confirmed to be unique to prostate cancer, may have important implications in the understanding of the biology of prostate carcinogenesis.